Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit by WhatsApp privacy breach

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 November 2019

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra hit by WhatsApp privacy breach

  • Users including Indian lawyers, academics, Dalit rights activists and journalists have come forward to say they received warnings from WhatsApp that they were the targets of espionage

NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition Congress party said on Sunday that its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had been informed by messaging service WhatsApp that her phone was hacked during this year’s election campaign by malware from Israeli surveillance firm NSO.
Last week, the Indian government asked Facebook-owned WhatsApp to explain the nature of a privacy breach on its messaging platform that has affected some users in the country.
The surveillance revelations came after WhatsApp sued Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group last Tuesday, accusing it of helping government spies break into the phones of roughly 1,400 users across four continents including diplomats, political dissidents, journalists and government officials. NSO denied the allegations.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with 400 million users.
“When WhatsApp sent messages to all those whose phones were hacked, one such message was also received by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra,” senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.
Priyanka — she is usually referred to by just her first name — is the sister of Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi.
Surjewala said phones of other opposition leaders were also hacked.
People familiar with WhatsApp’s investigation told Reuters that a significant number of Indian civil society figures were put under surveillance using the Israeli spyware.
One source familiar with the matter said that 121 people in India were among those targeted with the hacking software.
WhatsApp has not identified anyone by name. Users including Indian lawyers, academics, Dalit rights activists and journalists have come forward to say they received warnings from WhatsApp that they were the targets of espionage.


Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

Updated 12 November 2019

Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf becomes first female editor of Financial Times

  • Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at FT
  • Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain

LONDON: Lebanese journalist Roula Khalaf will become the first woman to edit the Financial Times in its 131-year history after Lionel Barber, Britain’s most senior financial journalist, said he would step down.
Barber said on Tuesday he would leave in January after 14 years as editor and 34 years at the Nikkei-owned newspaper, which had one million paying readers in 2019, with digital subscribers accounting for more than 75% of total circulation.
Khalaf has served as deputy editor, foreign editor and Middle East editor during her more than two decades at the salmon-pink FT and in recent years has sought to increase diversity in the newsroom and attract more female readers, while also becoming the publication’s first Arab editor.
“It’s a great honor to be appointed editor of the FT, the greatest news organization in the world.
“I look forward to building on Lionel Barber’s extraordinary achievements,” said Khalaf, whose earlier writing for Forbes magazine had earned her a small role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
Her article described the leading character Jordan Belfort as sounding like a twisted version of Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.
Khalaf will join Katharine Viner at the Guardian as one of the few women to edit major newspapers in Britain and one of few leading female editors in the world after Jill Abramson left the New York Times.
Before joining the FT in 1995, Khalaf worked at Forbes in New York and earned a master’s at Columbia University and graduated from Syracuse University.
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Japan’s Nikkei which bought the FT from Pearson in 2015, said in a statement Khalaf was chosen for her sound judgment and integrity.
“We look forward to working closely with her to deepen our global media alliance.”
Nikkei’s Kita described Barber as a strategic thinker and true internationalist, adding he was very sad to see him leave.
“However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter,” he said.
During his time as editor, Barber engineered a successful push into online subscription that protected the title as others battled an unprecedented collapse in advertising revenue, as well as managing the move to a new owner.