New Delhi: In a response to the government’s claims about not informing regarding a privacy breach on the messaging app, WhatsApp on Sunday said the company had warned Indian authorities in September that 121 Indians were targets of a massive snoop through an Israeli spyware that broke into phones through this Facebook-owned app, said sources.
This was the second alert after May, according to sources, which was sent by the messaging platform to the Indian authorities about the privacy breach.
The information about the September letter comes amidst claims by government sources that they were “disturbed” that the company had not brought the privacy breach of Indian citizens to their attention during the two meetings with the minister earlier this year.
On August 20, in the backdrop of lynchings traced to rumours on WhatsApp, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had urged Chris Daniels, then WhatsApp CEO, to find a solution to malicious messaging on their platform. On September 12, Prasad discussed data sharing with Nick Clegg, Facebook vice-president for global affairs and communications.
India is WhatsApp's biggest market with 400 million users. In a statement, the Facebook-owned company on Friday said it had "worked quickly to resolve the issue" after alerting the Indian authorities in May.
"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," a company spokesperson said in a statement, as reported by NDTV.
"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.
According to media reports, the government sources denied the claims saying that WhatsApp only informed about the vulnerability of their app in “technical jargon” in May but did not reveal that “privacy of Indian users had been compromised”.