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Indian WhatsApp users are asking the government to explain its ties with the Israeli company, in a privacy breach case

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A group of indigenous people, including journalists and lawyers, whose phones were hacked by Facebook’s WhatsApp, the messaging platform, asked the government on Friday to disclose its links with the Israeli company is being accused of using spyware.

FILE PHOTO: The-WhatsApp, the messaging application is displayed on a display screen of the phone by the 3rd of August 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo

WhatsApp, last week called on Israel and the NSO working Group, to be accused of helping clients to break into the phones of approximately 1,400 users, including diplomatic, political dissidents, journalists, military officers, and government officials on four continents around the world.

NSO did not deny the allegations, and said that it is selling the technology to governments in the fight against terrorism. In India WhatsApp is the largest market of 400 million people.

The group of 19 affected the Indian users, said in an open letter that Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government needs to explain whether he had installed the surveillance to them as well.

“It is a matter of public concern, or the Indian tax-payer’s money has been spent on this type of cyber security…,” the Indian group, which consists of journalists, lawyers, academics, writers, and activists, ” he said in the letter.

Of those who reported to be affected by the NSO’s Pegasus, spyware, and 121 are located in India, two sources familiar with the matter said.

According to the WhatsApp messenger, Pegasus, is being exploited by a loophole in the video-calling feature, but I use it as a door to break in on a user’s machine. Once in the car, he was given full access to the phone’s data, and even microphone and camera.

The group’s Indian users said that the malware had compromised not only the safety but also the safety and security of their family, friends, clients, and resources.

“We will seek an answer from the Government of India on the question of whether it was aware of the agreement between the various ministries, departments, agencies, or Authorities, and in the NSO Group, or one of its sub-contractors to implement, a Pegasus, or any related malware for all of its activities in India?” one of them said.

The Indian government has neither confirmed nor denied by the malware.

Last week, early on WhatsApp to explain the nature of the breach and of the steps they have taken to ensure the privacy of the user.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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