WhatsApp hasn't specified who were the Indians that were affected, but several social activists have come forward in the past few days and said that they had received a message from the social media giant in this regard.
Days after reports emerged that an Israeli spyware was used to snoop on journalists and activists, Congress on Sunday alleged that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra phone was also suspected to have been hacked. WhatsApp filed a complaint in a federal court in California against Israeli firm NSO. The facebook-owned messaging platform admitted to a privacy breach and said that a spyware Pegasus, developed by the Israeli firm NSO, was used to spy on hundreds of WhatsApp users across 20 countries.
WhatsApp claims that it sent a warning to nearly 1,400 users who were suspected to have been targeted by Pegasus. WhatsApp also said that it informed the Indian government in September that 121 Indians had been hit by the spyware. Congress on Sunday alleged that Gandhi, the party general secretary UP east, was among those whose privacy had been breached. “When WhatsApp sent messages to all those whose phones were hacked, one such message was also received by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,” claimed Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. Surjewala did not specify when Gandhi received this message.
The spyware allegedly gives the hacker access to the compromised phone’s camera, mic, emails, messages, and even location data. WhatsApp has nearly 400 million users in India. The social media giant hasn’t specified who were the Indians that were affected, but several social activists have come forward in the past few days and said that they had received a message from WhatsApp in this regard.
Expressing concern over the breach of privacy, the government has sought a detailed response from WhatsApp on what measures it was taking to safeguard the privacy of Indian users. “Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform Whatsapp. We have asked Whatsapp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens,” Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said on Thursday.