West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged her phones were being tapped and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to probe such incidents. "My phone is tapped, I know that because I have got the information and have the evidence with me. The government knows it because it is they who are doing it. This is happening at the behest of the central government and two three state governments. I will not name the states but one is a BJP ruled state," Mamata told reporters in Kolkata on Saturday.
“It is very serious matter as they (hackers) can take all the information from your mobile phone. It is an attack on privacy. We will not able to talk to someone freely,” she said. “I can’t talk freely on phone, cellphone or even WhatsApp. When I call someone, somebody is hearing the conversation. Nothing is safe now, not even WhatsApp. Earlier, we thought WhatsApp can’t be tapped,” said Mamata.
She also claimed all bureaucrats in West Bengal were under surveillance and their phone are being tapped. Mamata had brought similar charges in the past against the Modi government and the erstwhile Left Front government in West Bengal. Mamata’s charge came in the midst of a controversy set off by the popular messaging platform WhatsApp admitting that some Indian journalists and human rights activists were spied upon by unnamed entities used by Israeli spyware Pegasus.
She alleged the Modi government was totally aware of the security breach on the messaging platform. "Where is our freedom of speech? Which Independence are we living in now that today we cannot even talk (freely over the phone). Even if we are talking, they are getting tapped and someone is listening to them," Mamata said.
"Nothing is safe now, not even WhatsApp. Earlier, we thought WhatsApp can't be intercepted. But, now even WhatsApp has not been spared. Neither the landline phones nor mobile phones are safe. There is total espionage going on (in the country). "This is a very serious matter. I will request the PM to investigate into the matter," the Chief Minister said.
WhatsApp said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the surveillance technology that helped unnamed entities spies hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users. These users span across four continents and include diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and senior government officials. Facebook-owned WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion users globally, of which India accounts for about 400 million.