WhatsApp has characterised allegations that its data was vulnerable to hacking by the Israeli firm Pegasus as “baseless”, ANI reported. The rejoinder was made by Kapil Sibal on December 14, who represented WhatsApp in a case alleging breach of financial data security. “It is just an oral submission made across the bar without basis,” Sibal reportedly said. While WhatsApp has sued the developers of Pegasus, the worm requires special access to targets’ phones to work, and does not appear to have entered WhatsApp’s networks itself.
The issue reportedly came up in a case before the Supreme Court against the security practices of foreign tech firms running Unified Payments Interface-based payment services on their apps in India, arguing for localisation of sensitive personal data (which the companies have largely already committed to doing). The case was reportedly filed by Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Binoy Viswam. Viswam was represented by Krishnan Venugopal, a senior advocate who is the son of Attorney General KK Venugopal.
“Critical financial data is allowed to be accessed by companies abroad and RBI justifies it. This is a violation of privacy judgment as my data is being grossly misused as these companies then collect this data and use it for advertisement purposes,” Venugopal reportedly argued. It is not clear if specific evidence for these claims has been provided to the court.