A meeting of a parliamentary committee, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, discussed WhatsApp snooping for three hours on Wednesday.
The meeting was marked by sharp differences among its members over whether to take up the issue or not, and the panel discussed the matter only after a vote in the favour.
Sources said that the BJP was not in favour of a discussion on the data privacy issue, while the opposition demanded it. As the heated discussion ensued, Tharoor called for a vote. Initially, the vote ended in a tie, but then Tharoor used his tie-breaker vote as chairman to initiate the discussion. During this two-hour debate on whether to have a discussion or not, secretaries to Home, and Electronics and Information Technology ministries were kept waiting.
Tharoor had earlier written a letter to the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, saying the alleged use of technology for snooping on Indian citizens was a matter of “grave concern” and it would be discussed at its meeting on Wednesday.
Senior government officials briefed its members on the issue of “Citizens’ data security and privacy”.
In October, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unidentified entities, using an Israeli spyware — Pegasus.
Earlier in the day, top official sources said WhatsApp had written to the government expressing “regret” over the Pegasus snooping row, and has assured it that the social media giant is taking all security measures to address concerns.
The sources in the government told India Today TV the government has asked it to reinforce its security wall, and that no more breaches in the messaging platform will be tolerated.