Government agencies may be behind WhatsApp 'snooping' of journalists, activists, claims NCP's Dhananjay Munde in letter to Maharashtra guv

  • WhatsApp, a popular messaging app, on Thursday said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Pegasus.

  • Inhis letter, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde drew the Maharashtra Governor's attention towards a media report about spyware snooping during the Lok Sabha poll period between 20 April and 10 May.

  • He said that there's a possibility of 'government agencies being behind the snooping', while demanding the guilty concerned be given strict punishment

Mumbai: Condemning the "snooping" of Indian journalists and human right activists through WhatsApp, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde on Thursday wrote to Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, seeking steps to stop such spying activities.

He also demanded the guilty concerned be given strict punishment.

WhatsApp, a popular messaging app, on Thursday said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Pegasus.

 Government agencies may be behind WhatsApp snooping of journalists, activists, claims NCPs Dhananjay Munde in letter to Maharashtra guv

File image of NCP leader Dhananjay Munde. PTI

In his letter, Munde drew the Governor's attention towards a media report about spyware snooping during the Lok Sabha poll period between 20 April and 10 May.

The newly-elected MLA also mentioned about a matter in this connection pending before a US court.

"There is a possibility of government agencies being behind the snooping. It has come to the fore that in the past, too, government agencies spied upon in the personal lives of citizens. This is deplorable," he said in the letter, according to a statement.

"Steps be taken to ensure such snooping is stopped. Strict punishment be given to the guilty concerned," the NCP leader added.

Speaking in adjoining Thane, another NCP leader, Jitendra Awhad, demanded an explanation from the BJP-led NDA government over the "snooping" episode.

"This is a complete breach of privacy. Snooping in any form is illegal. Privacy of citizens has been held paramount by the Constitution. These include political opponents too," Awhad said.

WhatsApp said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users spanning across four continents. These users included diplomats, political dissidents, senior government officials and journalists.

The Facebook-owned messaging platform, however, did not say on whose behest the phones of journalists and activists across the world were targeted.

Since NSO has said Pegasus is sold only to government agencies, it is incumbent upon the Centre to reveal which government entity bought this software and for what purpose, said Awhad, who was elected from the MumbraKausa seat in the just held assembly polls.

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Updated Date: Oct 31, 2019 20:44:13 IST