Congress demands JPC probe into WhatsApp-Pegasus breach, Centre says no unauthorised interception

The government has not made any unauthorised interception, Union IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Rajya Sabhaon Thursday while replying to a calling attention motion on the snooping row involving Pegasus spyware.

Congress demands JPC probe into WhatsApp-Pegasus breach, Centre says no unauthorised interception

New Delhi: The government has not made any unauthorised interception, Union IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in Rajya Sabhaon Thursday while replying to a calling attention motion on the snooping row involving Pegasus spyware.

Replying to a question from Congress leader Digvijaya Singh whether the government or any of its agency had entered into any deal with Israeli firm NSO group that developed the controversial spyware, the Minister said there was a proper operating procedure for that.

Not satisfied with the reply, the Congress leader insisted for specific information.

In response to this, Prasad said, "Sir, my reply is very simple. When I say there is a proper operating procedure under which the security agencies which are doing a tough job of keeping us secured, operate that operating procedure has to be followed. Now, they want a specific thing, I have replied very clearly and categorically."

But Digvijaya Singh remained unconvinced from the response and insisted that the Minister gives a specific reply if the government or any of its agency had purchased Pegasus. 

Even after this, the Minister maintained that an operating procedure was in place to deal with this.

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Earlier, while calling the attention of the Minister, Digvijaya Singh alleged that Home Minister Amit Shah had a few months back met senior-most executives of Facebook which owns WhatsApp and discussed Pegasus at length.

"I demand that the government shares the minutes of the meeting in the House. The minutes prepared by both, Government and Facebook, be shared so that government does not mislead the House by editing it," he demanded.

Digvijaya Singh appealed to all the parties to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the WhatsApp privacy breach issue.

"I appeal to all the parties to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and investigate the sensitive issue as it is connected to our fundamental rights and national security," Singh said in Rajya Sabha.

The opposition parties have accused the Centre of "snooping" on journalists and activists.

Social media application, WhatsApp had earlier this month revealed that journalists and activists in India were targeted by operators who used Israeli spyware called Pegasus for surveillance.

The facebook-owned messaging company stated that it remains committed to protecting all messages of its users.