In wake of the WhatsApp snooping controversy, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Thursday said that there was no information on any order being given to purchase Israeli sypware 'Pegasus', adding that the government will take strict action against any intermediary responsible for breach of privacy of citizens.
In a reply to an RTI application filed on October 23 which asked whether the Indian government has purchased or given purchase order for the software called Pegasus from the NSO Group, the Cyber & Information Security (CIS) division of MHA said, "It is informed that no such information is available with the undersigned CPIO."
"An appeal, if any, against this reply can be made within 30 days," the MHA further said in the reply.
The development came after WhatsApp snooping of human rights activists and journalists in India reached political corridors on Thursday, with the Congress party accusing Modi government of 'snooping' and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the alleged "hacking" of cell phones.
"The government seeking WhatsApp's response on who bought Pegasus to spy on Indian citizens, is like Modi asking Dassault who made money on the sale of Rafale jets to India," Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said.
The allegation comes after Facebook-owned WhatsApp accused Israel-based NSO Group of using the spyware called 'Pegasus' to target over 1,400 WhatsApp users, a few of them in India. As per the instant messaging app, the spyware targeted victims by giving missed calls on their mobile phones.
Following the disclosure by WhatsApp, the IT Ministry has sought a detailed response from the messaging platform by November 4.
Edited by Chitranjan Kumar with PTI inputs