Pegasus Spyware: WhatsApp downloads drop by 80% in India

Pegasus Spyware: WhatsApp downloads drop by 80% in India

The report says Signal and Telegram number of downloads have increased in India following WhatsApp controversy.

After the spyware row, the Facebook-owned instant messaging app has seen a drastic fall in the number of downloads in India.

The Business Standard report citing analytics firm Sensor Tower's data says, in mid of October 26 and November 3 WhatsApp downloads were down by 80% to 1.3 million from the previous nine-day period. The report further added, from October 17 to October 25, downloads were around 8.9 million.

Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app, saw downloads in India rise 63 per cent to 9,600 in the same nine days, i.e., from October 26 and November 3. Telegram downloads increase by 10 per cent to 920,000.

The new report comes at a time when WhatsApp is facing criticism over a May 2019 spyware attack that allowed snooping on about 1,400 individuals including 121 Indians. WhatsApp said it was targeted using Israel-based NSO Group's Pegasus spyware. WhatsApp revealed that the spyware exploited the vulnerability in the video-calling feature to conduct the attack.

The Indian government has asked WhatsApp for explanation over the spyware attack. "Government of India is concerned at the breach of privacy of citizens of India on WhatsApp. We have asked WhatsApp to explain the kind of breach and what it is doing to safeguard the privacy of millions of Indian citizens," Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had tweeted.

WhatsApp said that the safety and security of its users is its main priority. "..which is why in May we blocked the attack and have taken action in the courts to hold NSO accountable," a spokesman of the company said in a statement.

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