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Parliament panel votes in favour of taking up WhatsApp snooping issue


New Delhi: A meeting of a parliamentary committee, headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, was marked by sharp differences among its members over whether to take up the WhatsApp snooping issue or not, and the panel discussed the matter only after a vote in the favour.

Sources said the casting vote of Tharoor in favour of taking up the issue, which has become a political row with opposition members raising the matter in Parliament, sealed a long-heated discussion, with secretaries to Home, and Electronics and Information Technology ministries being kept waiting for over two hours.

With the panel members unable to arrive at a conclusion, votes were cast.

Tharoor had earlier written a letter to the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, saying the alleged use of technology for snooping on Indian citizens was a matter of "grave concern" and it would be discussed at its meeting on Wednesday.

Senior government officials briefed its members on the issue of "Citizens' data security and privacy".

Earlier, Facebook-owned WhatsApp said Indian journalists and human rights activists were among those globally spied upon by unidentified entities, using an Israeli spyware - Pegasus.

Earlier, top official sources said, WhatsApp had written to the government expressing "regret" over the Pegasus snooping row, and has assured it that the social media giant is taking all security measures to address concerns.

The sources, who requested not to be named, said the government has asked it to reinforce its security wall, and that no more breaches in the messaging platform will be tolerated.

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