Shashi Tharoor-Headed Parliament Panel To Take Up WhatsApp Snooping Case On Nov. 20
A parliamentary standing committee headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor will take up the WhatsApp snooping case in its next meeting on Nov. 20, sources said.
Tharoor, who heads the parliamentary standing committee on information technology, said in a letter to his panel members that alleged use of the technology for snooping on Indian citizens was a matter of "grave concern" and it would be discussed at the committee's next meeting on Nov. 20.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Oct. 31 said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Pegasus.
In the letter, sources said, Tharoor urged the committee members that as a democratic republic, "we must ensure adequate safeguards to prevent any misuse of the executive's powers in an unauthorised manner or for extraneous purposes."
Underlining that the Supreme Court of India has clearly recognised the fundamental right to privacy, Tharoor said there is need to analyse the legality, legitimacy and necessity of any action that infringes on this right.
He said the standing committee members from both the ruling party and the Opposition must work together to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens. Besides the parliamentary panel on information technology, the panel on Home Affairs will also take up this issue of "snooping" in its next meeting.
For its part, WhatsApp had said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users.
These users span across four continents and include diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials. Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has asked WhatsApp for a report on the allegations.
WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India accounts for about 400 million.