Two parliamentary panels to address the case of spying on WhatsApp

NEW DELHI: Two parliamentary panels headed by congressional leaders have decided to examine the espionage case and will look for details of senior government officials, including the secretary of the Interior.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, said Thursday that Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those who were spied globally by unidentified entities that use Israeli spyware.

Describing the entire WhatsApp spy episode as worrisome, Congress leader Anand Sharma, who chairs the parliamentary position engaged in home affairs, said this issue will be addressed at the next panel meeting on November 15.

The Interior Minister plans to inform the panel about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir at the next meeting. This issue will also be discussed at that meeting and we will look for details from the secretary, Sharma said.

Concerned about this development, Shashi Tharoor, who heads the permanent parliamentary committee on information technology, said the panel will share its concerns.

He said he will consult other members by email on the matter.

“In any case, Cybersecurity is an important issue on our agenda and we will definitely address this under that rubric. And we will seek clarifications from the government, '' Tharoor said.

He said that as the problem of the WhatsApp NSO has emerged outdoors, it is important to ensure that no other social media platform can be used in a similar way, and the panel will seek to learn exactly how the government can guarantee that.

“It is vital that, as a democracy, India remain vigilant about the risk of our freedoms being eroded by technological means. We must not, at any price, become a state of vigilance like China, '' he said.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp had said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, which is reportedly behind the technology that helped unidentified entities to hack phones of approximately 1,400 users.

These users span four continents and include diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

The Minister of Information Technology of the Union asked WhatsApp for a report on the accusations.

WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users worldwide, of which India represents around 400 million.