India says law allows state to intercept data
New Delhi, India - India’s government said on Tuesday it’s ‘empowered’ to intercept, monitor and decrypt digital information in the public interest as long as its agencies follow the law.
Laws allowed federal and state governments to intercept ‘any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource’, G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State for Home, told Parliament in a written reply when asked by an opposition lawmaker whether the government had snooped on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and Google calls and messages. Information can only be intercepted by ‘ authorised agencies as per due process of law, and subject to safeguards as provided in the rules’, the statement said.
Reddy didn’t answer a question on whether the federal government had used the services of NSO Group’s Pegasus software to snoop on calls and messages on WhatsApp Inc’s mobile platform. Indian news reports had earlier this month listed activists and human rights lawyers who had spoken out against government policies as among those whose phones were hacked.
Facebook Inc, parent of WhatsApp, informed about 1,400 users that a malware was sent on their devices using the video calling system, the company had said in a statement. Facebook has sued spyware manufacturer NSO, alleging that the Israeli company hacked into the mobile phones of users.
The government can monitor digital information ‘in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence,” Reddy said in his statement.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) addresses media after arriving for the winter session of parliament in New Delhi on Monday