A bunch of Indian WhatsApp users whose phones were reportedly hacked into by the Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli company NSO have asked the Indian government to come clean about its ties with the company. Last week, it had emerged that phone data of a certain, select group of WhatsApp users in India had been siphoned off by Pegasus.
When questioned, NSO had riposted that its trading, regarding technology sales, was with countries’ governments to in an attempt to stave off terrorist attacks. In India, the people whose phones were breached in such manner are known to oppose the Hindu-majority, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, with several of them lawyers handling cases involving the government as a litigant.
Around 121 people’s phones have so far been discovered to have been misused in this manner. Of these, about 19 have written a joint communication to the government. The letter states, “It is a matter of public concern whether Indian tax payer money has been spent on this kind of cyber-surveillance...
We seek an answer from the Government of India about whether it was aware of any contract between any of its various ministries, departments, agencies, or any State Government, and the NSO Group or any of its contractors to deploy Pegasus or related malware for any operations within India?” Facebook-owned WhatsApp that has around 400 million users in India is the second social media site to face the wrath of its users’ ire.
Recently, Twitter has also been accused of bias against certain user accounts whose opinions go against the ruling government.