WhatsApp informed Indian Government about spyware in May 2019

WhatsApp informed the Modi Government in May about a privacy breach that affected some users in the country and worked quickly to resolve it, the company said in a statement, after the government demanded an explanation.

“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 Facebook-owned company said in a statement on Friday.

“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,” the statement said.

“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,” it added.

The Modi Government has however denied this, saying WhatsApp made no mention of Pegasus spyware and Indian users being targeted.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with over 400 million users was asked to explain the nature of a privacy breach on its messaging platform and said “strict action” would be taken against those guilty of violating the law.

There are speculations that the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, helped the Government of India spy into 1,400 phones that includes lawyers, activists, diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and government officials.

In its lawsuit filed in a federal court in San Francisco, WhatsApp accused NSO of facilitating government hacking sprees in 20 countries, calling it “an unmistakable pattern of abuse.”