Why didn't you tell us about the rape?: Government WhatsApp

NEW DELHI: Amid an uproar over the violation of the mobile phones of Indian citizens, the Ministry of Communications and IT summoned officials from the social media group to explain why they had not disclosed the messaging platform to the Indian authorities when the incidents occurred. In May.

Sources said ministry officials told local WhatsApp representatives, owner of WhatsApp, that their top executives, Will Cathcart and Nick Clegg, did not inform the Indian authorities of the attack on WhatsApp during their visits in July and September, respectively. .

WhatsApp has told an American court that the spyware attack, which involved unidentified entities that use Pegasus software to violate mobile phones by exploiting a vulnerable patch on the WhatsApp platform, took place in May.

“It has invoked its concern for privacy to resist our demand to share with the law enforcement agencies the source of messages that are disseminated to create social conflicts and public order problems. However, he did not consider it appropriate to inform us about the violation of the privacy of Indian citizens, ministry officials cited as sources informed Facebook representatives.

The meeting took place in the context of a dispute over espionage with the opposition claiming the government's hand in illegal surveillance. Most of those whose phones were violated by exploiting a previously unknown vulnerability in WhatsApp turned out to be activists and lawyers known for their leftist sympathies.

The opposition also cited the claim of the developer of Pegasus, the company, that they sold their products only to government entities to support their government involvement charge.

WhatsApp has been asked to explain its position on spyware before November 4, but the last row is expected to delay its entry into the lucrative payment business in India, so it has not received regulatory approval due to his inability to return to work The security architecture.

The government refuted the accusation and said it had not unleashed Pegasus against activists and lawyers. The moment of the disclosure of WhatsApp generates worrying suspicions, said a source who pointed out the confrontation between the government and WhatsApp about the insistence of the first to share the source of messages used to incite problems and the creation of a large-scale office and appointment of a claims repair officer in India.

“The matter is pending in the Supreme Court, so, as far as you know, it could be a fun ploy to support the company's argument. The timing of this (WhatsApp petition in a federal court of the United States) is full of suspicions ... It is a rearguard action by WhatsApp to avoid government measures to seek rules and traceability, ”said the source.

The sources also argued that the government had no dealings with the NSO Group. A senior official dismissed the group's claims that spyware sales were limited to government agencies and said the company also sold it to private players.

The government's focus, so far, is on WhatsApp and a decision on convening the NSO Group has not yet been made. In recent years, the Indian authorities have asked WhatsApp to develop a mechanism through which they can share the phone number of a sender whose message can cause social unrest.

The entity owned by Facebook has expressed its inability to do so, arguing that the messages were encrypted. But he has tried to control the spread of rumors by limiting the number of forwarding to five.

The government is not convinced and said that similar demands were now coming from Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, and that Brazil and Mexico were also looking for a limit on shipments.