WhatsApp has said it in May told the government about the messaging service being illegally used to spy on Indian citizens, clarifying its stand after it was asked to explain the security breach.
WhatsApp sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group on Tuesday, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents including diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and government officials.
In India, where there are 400 million WhatsApp users, the security breach was allegedly used to spy on activists, journalists and government critics.
“We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens,” said information and technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in a tweet on Thursday.
WhatsApp late Friday said it had in May "quickly resolved a security issue and notified relevant Indian and international government authorities."
"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", said a spokesperson in a statement, according to news agency PTI.
"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," said the spokesperson.
The Indian government has asked WhatsApp to explain by November 4 how the breach occurred and how the privacy of its citizens was compromised.