The Union Minister of Law and Justice, Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a written reply on Wednesday asserted that the central government has no plans to link Aadhaar with an individual’s social media accounts. He also reiterated that Aadhaar data is completely secure and it is audited from time to time. Prasad was responding to a question raised in the Lok Sabha.
Prasad added that under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the government has the right to block websites social media accounts in the country in matters of public interest. The government has so far blocked 633 URLs in 2016, 1,385 in 2017, 2,799 in 2018, and 3,433 in 2019.
Regarding the question asked by AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi about the threat posed by the Israeli spyware on Whatsapp targeting Indian journalists and social activists, Prasad responded that the government had taken cognisance of the fact that the Israeli spyware tried to snoop on 121 individuals in India.
Prasad responded that Cert-In had issued an alert on vulnerability in WhatsApp after which the instant messaging service had responded saying that such loopholes can’t be used to launch an attack.
Prasad further added that the government has sought an explanation from WhatsApp about the Israeli spyware Pegasus attack on its users using its platform. WhatsApp then reportedly updated Cert-In, claiming that the full impact of the attack is difficult to gauge. “We are committed to uphold the Right to Privacy of citizens of India and have asked WhatsApp to provide a detailed explanation about the issue. We are bringing a bill for the private data security of citizens,” Prasad added.
Earlier too, when it was revealed that some Indian journalists and activists have been target of surveillance by the Israeli spyware Pegasus, Prasad had then assured people saying that the government is committed to preserving and safeguarding the privacy of Indians and that the government had asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens.
In response to the allegations that the government was behind the snooping of Indian journalists and activists, Prasad had then said, “Government agencies have a well-established protocol for the interception, which includes sanction and supervision from highly ranked officials in central and state governments, for clearly stated reasons in the national interest.”