RSS’ Govindacharya Moves SC Seeking NIA Probe Against WhatsApp
He also lodged an FIR against Facebook, WhatsApp, NSO Group for reportedly violating the privacy of Indian citizens.
As the WhatsApp controversy on cyber snooping by Israeli sypware Pegasus gains momentum, former RSS ideologue KN Govindacharya moved Supreme Court over it.
Govindacharya moved the apex court on Monday, 4 November, seeking an NIA probe into the matter and lodging an FIR against Facebook, WhatsApp, NSO Group under the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Indian Penal Code, 1860 for reportedly violating the fundamental privacy of Indian citizens by compromising their phone networks.
Govindacharya also sought perjury proceedings against WhatsApp for "delibrately misleading" the court by claiming that users’ data is completely encrypted and no one, including WhatsApp, has the key.
The petition asks the top court to “direct the government to stop any surveillance through Pegasus or similar applications.”
This comes amidst news of WhatsApp stating that it had notified the Indian government in September about the breach of security on its platform after the Pegasus attack.
Quoting sources, PTI reported that the IT ministry contended that the information received from the messaging app earlier was inadequate and incomplete.
Here’s the petition filed by Govindacharya in Supreme Court, according to LiveLaw.
Govindacharya's petition also stated that there are many government agencies, including the police, present on social media platforms such as WhatsApp.
"Thus, it is clear that data of Indians, including government data, is being stored in systems that have already been compromised, which endangers national security."
Referring to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that Facebook was involved in, it stated, "the internet companies are partners in crime with other entities. or are themselves selling data of their users and thereby users’ privacy, endangering their life."
Virag Gupta, Govindacharya's lawyer said, "India is one of the biggest markets, yet WhatsApp decided to file a case before US district court and did not disclose facts before India's highest court," reported The Times of India.
He further said, "It is time the Supreme Court fixes civil and criminal liabilities of tech companies for playing with privacy and right to life of Indian citizens."
Lawyers Iffy About the PIL Route
Earlier, there were also reports of lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan planning to file a PIL in the Supreme Court to seek an investigation by cyber experts in the matter.
On 31 October, Facebook-owned company WhatsApp had said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unnamed entities using Israeli spyware Pegasus, leading to an uproar over breach of citizens' privacy.
(With inputs from PTI, LiveLaw, The Times of India)
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