The WhastApp snooping row took a dramatic twist on Sunday after the Congress made a stunning attack alleging that its General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s phone too was hacked. “When WhatsApp sent messages to all those whose phones were hacked, one such message was also received by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,” ANi quoted Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala as saying. WhatsApp had contacted all those users, whose phones were hacked by Israeli malware in April and May this year.
The Congress also alleged that the Centre’s Narendra Modi government was aware of the use of Israeli spyware Pegasus targeting Indian journalists, human rights activists and politicians between April and May during the run-up to the Indian elections.
The largest opposition party of India also alleged that the illegal spyware Pegasus was used to hack cell phones in the run-up to the 2019 general elections to the ‘Parliament of India and BJP government was fully aware of the same.’
“Facebook – owner of WhatsApp, reported the cell phones hack through ‘Pegasus’ software to Government of India in April-May, 2019. In fact, it was duly noted and a vulnerability report issued by ‘Indian Computer Emergency Response Team’ – CERT- In of Ministry of Information Technology,” the party said in a statement.
The stunning attack by the Congress party came days after Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad implied that his government was not aware of snooping on Indian WhatsApp users. He had said ina statement that the government had asked the Facebook-owned platform to explain the privacy breach. However, WhatsApp was quick to issue a statement countering Prasad’s claim saying that it had informed the central government way back in April when the snooping attempt by Israeli spyware was first detected.
The statement by the Congress party said, “Not only this, IT Minister, Shri Ravishankar Prasad met WhatsApp CEO, Mr. Chris Daniels on 20th August, 2019. He again met Facebook Vice-President, Mr. Nick Clegg on 12th September, 2019. Yet Shri Ravishankar Prasad, IT Minister as also Modi Government chose to keep mum.
“In fact, only when the news report of WhatsApp suing NSO Group over the illegal spyware ‘Pegasus’ came out on October 30, 2019 that the IT Minister responded on twitter on 31st October, 2019. Till today, no clarificatory statement of facts denying the complicity of the Government in illegally deploying the spyware ‘Pegasus’ has been issued either by Shri Ravishankar Prasad or by the PMO. Modi Government is relying upon the ignominity of ‘unnamed sources’ to shirk its clear role and responsibility in the illegal spying racket.”
The Congress party also stepped up its attack against the BJP, calling it a Bharatiya Jasoos Party.