Alerted govt of spyware attack in September: WhatsApp

WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India alone accounts for about 400 million.

WhatsApp has replied to the latest notice by the Centre on snooping of the App's users and claimed that it had twice alerted the government about the incidents with the latest one being in September this year.

The US-based firm also said that it has sent a detailed explanation to the latest notice by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) about the Pegasus spyware incident that allegedly snooped on journalists and human rights activists across the World, including India.

But the social media giant refused to divulge the contents of its reply.

However, officials in the Meity said that they are studying the reply and will soon take a call on the next course of action.

The Facebook-owned company claimed that it had first informed the CERT-In, a cyber security wing of the Meity, in May and second communication was sent in September where 121 of its users in India mostly journalists and social activists, was targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus.

However, the government officials claimed that they did receive two communications in the past, it was incomplete and just technical jargon.

The company did not mention about the Pegasus spyware incident in detail, said an official in the Meity.

As per the IT Act, any company which operates in India, have to report the government about the cyber attack on their network or Indian users.

WhatsApp had said that it is 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 across the Globe which included diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials.

WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India alone accounts for about 400 million.

Since the company is planning to launch digital payment services in India, the government officials says they are concerned over the snooping as payment systems needs to be 'fool-proof.' 

The company which is testing its payment service in the country is waiting regulatory approvals. Once launched, WhatsApp's service will compete with the likes of PhonePe, Paytm and Google Pay.

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