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Government agencies may be behind "snooping" episode: NCP


Press Trust of India Mumbai
Condemning the "snooping" of Indian journalists and human right activists through WhatsApp, NCP leader Dhananjay Munde on Thursday wrote to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, seeking steps to stop such spying activities.
He also demanded the guilty concerned be given strict punishment.
WhatsApp, a popular messaging app, on Thursday said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using an Israeli spyware Peagasus.
In his letter, Munde drew the Governor's attention towards a media report about a certain spyware snooping during the Lok Sabha poll period between April 20 and May 10.
The newly-elected MLA also mentioned about a matter in this connection pending before a US court.
"There is a possibility of government agencies being behind the snooping. It has come to the fore that in the past, too, government agencies spied upon in the personal lives of citizens. This is deplorable," he said in the letter, according to a statement.
"Steps be taken to ensure such snooping is stopped. Strict punishment be given to the guilty concerned," the NCP leader added.
Speaking in adjoining Thane, another NCP leader, Jitendra Awhad, demanded an explanation from the BJP-led NDA government over the "snooping" episode.
"This is a complete breach of privacy. Snooping in any form is illegal. Privacy of citizens has been held paramount by the Constitution. These include political opponents too," Awhad said.
WhatsApp said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users spanning across four continents. These users included diplomats, political dissidents, senior government officials and journalists.
The Facebook-owned messaging platform, however, did not say on whose behest the phones of journalists and activists across the world were targeted.
Since NSO has said Pegasus is sold only to government agencies, it is incumbent upon the Centre to reveal which government entity bought this software and for what purpose, said Awhad, who was elected from the MumbraKausa seat in the just held assembly polls.

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First Published: Oct 31 2019 | 7:50 PM IST

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