The Parliamentary Standing Committee for information technology, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, has summoned WhatsApp executives for a hearing on December 11.
A communication from the Lok Sabha Secretariat says the WhatsApp executives will be asked to present their views on “the subject 'Citizens’ data security and privacy”. Business Standard learns that senior executives of the India team of WhatsApp have been asked to attend. Apart from WhatsApp, the committee has summoned cybersecurity experts, representatives of the ministry of communications (department of telecommunications), ministry of home affairs, and chief secretary of NCT of Delhi.
The committee would likely discuss the issue of citizens’ snooping by exploiting vulnerability in WhatsApp through Israel-based company NSO Group’s Pegasus software. The government has since questioned WhatsApp about the breach of citizens’ privacy. The breach, discovered in May, impacted 1,400 people globally, of which 121 were Indians.
On November 20, the panel had met secretaries of the ministries of electronics and IT, home affairs and department of atomic energy.
The meeting — lasted for two and a half hours —took a political turn with while ruling alliance members opposing taking up the WhatsApp issue and opposition leaders favouring a discussion. The government representatives did not provide answers on whether NSO Group, which claims to sell only to government, had been contacted.