Rahul Gandhi said that the government asking WhatsApp about 'Pegasus' was like Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking Dassault Aviation who made money on the sale of Rafale jets to India.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the Modi government over the WhatsApp privacy breach. In a tweet, Rahul added a Rafale angle to the row as he took a jibe at the government. Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday that the Indian government had written to WhatsApp seeking a detailed response after it was revealed that the platform was used to spy over a dozen journalists, Dalit activists and members of the academia through an Israeli spyware in India.
Taking a swipe at the Centre, Rahul said that the government asking WhatsApp about ‘Pegasus’ was like Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking Dassault Aviation who made money on the sale of Rafale jets to India.
“The Government seeking WhatsApp’s response on who bought Pegasus to spy on Indian citizens, is like Modi asking Dassault who made money on the sale of RAFALE jets to India,” Rahul, who is currently on a meditation visit abroad, tweeted. In the run up to the Lok Sabha elections in May this year, Rahul, the then Congress president, had made repeated allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal, implicating PM Modi directly.
The Congress party also reacted sharply to the controversy and sought the intervention of the Supreme Court in the matter. Party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that it was being done at the behest of the BJP government.
“We urge upon the Supreme Court to take suo moto cognisance of this brazen and blatant illegal hacking of telephones and introduction of spyware by the BJP government agencies and conduct a court-monitored inquiry,” he said.
WhatsApp has sued Israeli cyber intelligence company NSO Group that exploited its video calling system to snoop on 1,400 selected users globally, reports said on Thursday. According to The Indian Express, Indian politicians, journalists and human rights activists were targeted significantly by the Israeli technology firm using spyware called Pegasus. The company said that it has filed a lawsuit in a California federal court against NSO Group.
This prompted the government to seek an explanation from WhatsApp. A senior government official on Thursday confirmed that IT Ministry Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to WhatsApp and asked it to give a detailed response to the entire allegations and the extent of users compromised in India.
“The government is concerned at the breach of the privacy of citizens of India on the messaging platform WhatsApp and has asked the platform to explain the breach,” Prasad said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also issued a statement on the controversy. It said that the government is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy. The MHA also assured that strict action will be taken against those responsible for breach of privacy.