Facebook-owned platform WhatsApp, in an alarming disclosure, has said journalists and human rights activists in India have been targets of reconnaissance by operatives using Israeli spyware Pegasus.
WhatsApp Reveals Israeli spyware was used to snoop on Indian journalists, activists
The disclosure pursues a claim documented Tuesday in a US government court in San Francisco in which WhatsApp asserted that the Israeli NSO Group focused on exactly 1,400 WhatsApp clients with Pegasus. While WhatsApp declined to uncover the characters and “exact number” of those focused for observation in India, its representative revealed that WhatsApp knew about those contacted each one of them.
“Indian journalists and human rights activists have been the target of surveillance and while I cannot reveal their identities and the exact number, I can say that it is not an insignificant number,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
It is found out that at any rate two dozen scholastics, legal advisors, Dalit activists and journalists in India were reached and alert by WhatsApp that their phones had been under best in class reconnaissance for a fourteen-day time span until May 2019.
In the claim against the NSO Group and Q Cyber Technologies, WhatsApp affirmed that the organizations damaged US and California laws just as WhatsApp’s terms of service which restricts this kind of misuse. It claimed that Smartphones were entered through missed calls alone.
“We believe this attack targeted at least 100 members of civil society which is an unmistakable pattern of abuse. This number may grow higher as more victims come forward,” it said.
The NSO Group, in a statement, said: “In the strongest possible terms, we dispute today’s allegations and will vigorously fight them. Our technology is not designed or licensed for use against human rights activists and journalists.” After doubts about this technology were first raised in May, the NSO Group said it put in place a ‘Human Rights Policy’ on September 19 which “further embeds human rights protections throughout our business and governance systems”.
The NSO Group claims Pegasus has been sold only to government agencies. “We license our product only to vetted and legitimate government agencies,” it said.