New Delhi, November 2: Shortly after tech giant WhatsApp issued a statement contradicting the Ministry of Electronic and Information's claim that it was not alerted of the privacy breach, sources within the government said the purported alert issued in May was mostly of technical jargons with "no mention of Pegasus". The sources also shared a screenshot of the alert sent to Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) five months ago which did not warn the state agency about the spyware.
Social media users were left unimpressed by the claims made by the top government sources, with several among them questioning the competence of CERT-IN. A section of the Twitterati pointed out that the links sent in the May alert clearly lead to the warning Pegasus.
Here is How Twitterati Questioned CERT-IN's Ability:
— Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) November 2, 2019
Not Competent Enough?
🤦♂️if India's CERT thinks this is pure technical jargon then it isn't very competent. https://t.co/BPmTpMCLVJ
— Nikhil Pahwa (@nixxin) November 1, 2019
‘Pure technical jargon’?! Which ‘sources’ is so uneducated that they would offer this as a defense. https://t.co/qwjheArvIN
— Ramanathan S (@madarassi) November 2, 2019
'A BA Graduate Can Also Understand'
CERT, an office inside of India's IT Ministry that deals with cyber security, and likely made up of literal computer scientists, claims that WhatsApp's filing about the breach is "pure technical jargon" that somehow I, with my BA in English, can also understand. https://t.co/BhuHl7CRbZ
— ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@PranavDixit) November 1, 2019
Experts Must Decode Jargons, Says This User
It is a technical issue .. it is supposed to have technically heavy explanations and the authorities are supposed to have a team competent enough to understand it.
— shilpi tewari (@shilpitewari) November 2, 2019
Notably, the government sources who spoke to news agency IANS also hinted towards a ploy, claiming that the matter could be raked by WhatsApp to thwart government's effort to stop its 'end-to-end encryption' feature.
"WhatsApp officials have met the Indian government in the last five months. This incident is of August.... then why did WhatsApp not inform us that time. Looking at our demand, now the US, UK and Australia have also raised pitch for traceability. So this is too much of a coincidence. This could be an attempt by WhatsApp to build pressure on countries to push back on growing global opinion for traceability using this example," a source was quoted as saying.
The snooping row emerged earlier this week after WhatsApp revealed that over 1,400 select users of the social media app have been targeted using a Israeli spyware called Pegasus. The number of privacy breach victims in India are said to be around 30-40, mostly Dalit rights' activists.