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Friday, December 13, 2019

WhatsApp snooping: Govindacharya’s plea listed for SC hearing on December 2

The petitioner, former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya, is seeking an NIA probe against Facebook, WhatsApp and the NSO Group.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | New Delhi | Updated: November 29, 2019 11:15:23 am
K N Govindacharya

A petition regarding the WhatsApp snooping case is listed for hearing on Monday in court number 1 before the bench held by the Chief Justice of India, according to the latest cause list updated on the Supreme Court website.

The petitioner, former RSS ideologue K N Govindacharya, is seeking an NIA probe against Facebook, WhatsApp and the NSO Group. The petition is also seeking perjury proceedings against WhatsApp for “misleading” the court about encryption and data during another case proceeding.

The petition comes almost a month after The Indian Express reported that WhatsApp was used to spy on Indian citizens. This was done using a spyware tool called Pegasus, which has been developed by an Israeli firm, the NSO Group. WhatsApp has sued the NSO Group in a US court for alleging targeting the phones of 1,400 users.

Explained | Surveillance via WhatsApp: The case against Israeli spyware firm NSO, and how attack happened

The petition states: “NSO has stated that its sells Pegasus only to government agencies. The fact that human rights activists, lawyers etc. have been snooped shows the gravity of the situation. Earlier, Chief Minister of Delhi has stated that the phones of judges are also being tapped.”

The respondents include Union of India, IT Ministry, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Read | WhatsApp privacy breach puts focus on govt’s digital security agencies

Govindacharya, a former BJP leader, has filed the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, “seeking directions to protect the fundamental right of privacy of Indians from illegal surveillance being carried out”. It argues that the right is “being violated by illegal surveillance by Apps and Internet Companies”.

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