NSO's Pegasus spyware allegedly used WhatsApp calls for spying
To recall, in May, cybersecurity company Citizen Labs had exposed a WhatsApp vulnerability, alleging that NSO Group injected malicious spyware, Pegasus, through WhatsApp calls to spy on end-to-end encrypted conversations of journalists and activists.
NSO Group denied the allegations.
Pegasus, which was being installed via missed calls, was allegedly used to spy on 1,400 users around the world, including over 20 people in India.
Notified relevant Indian, international government authorities in May: WhatsApp
Now, in a statement on Friday, WhatsApp stated, "Our highest priority is the privacy and security of WhatsApp users. In May we quickly resolved a security issue and notified relevant Indian and international government authorities."
The statement added, "Since then we've worked to identify targeted users to ask the courts to hold the international spyware firm known as the NSO Group accountable."
'WhatsApp committed to protection of all user messages'
Further, the statement added, "We agree with the government of India it's critical that together we do all we can to protect users from hackers attempting to weaken security. WhatsApp remains committed to the protection of all user messages through the product we provide."
WhatsApp filed lawsuit in San Francisco court on Tuesday
It so happened that on Tuesday, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco, accusing the NSO Group of privacy breach in 20 countries.
Describing it as an "an unmistakable pattern of abuse," the lawsuit claimed that the Israeli firm helped governments across countries in four continents to spy on diplomats, political dissidents, journalists, and government officials.
Committed to protecting the fundamental rights of citizens: India
As the news gained steam, India demanded an explanation from WhatsApp, warning "strict action" against those guilty.
The government said that it is "committed to protecting the fundamental rights of Indian citizens, including right to privacy."
It said, "The government operates strictly as per provisions of law and laid down protocols. There are adequate safeguards to ensure that no innocent citizen is harassed or his privacy breached."