WhatsApp challenges the Indian government to protect the privacy of its Indian Users

On 25 May 2021 (Tuesday), WhatsApp registered a case against the Indian government regarding privacy protection. Challenging and protesting legally before the Delhi High Court new IT rules which included messaging services to track down the beginning of particular messages.

The WhatsApp representative said “Requiring messaging apps to “trace” chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermine people’s right to privacy.”

“We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users. In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us” he added.

According to the recently introduced Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) guidelines 2021, social media mediator having more than 5 million users as well as offering messaging assistances must have to allow the identification of the first creator of problematic content that may cause harm to the country’s curiosity and many other provisions described in the guidelines. Under section 69 of the IT Act, the social media mediator would have to make this applicable in reaction to a judicial order that was passed down by a court or by a competing authority.

The guidelines state “Provided also that where the first originator of any information on the computer resource of an intermediary is located outside the territory of India, the first originator of that information within the territory of India shall be deemed to be the first originator of the information for this clause.”

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp has stated previously, that it won’t go beyond the encryption as it damages the privacy of its users. WhatsApp’s biggest market with over 400 million users is the Indian social media market, so WhatsApp says that traceability damages the privacy of its users and affects the private data. That’s why it has to look after its users too. Privacy experts appreciated this move. A technology lawyer with a law practice in both New Delhi and New York, Mishi Choudhary claims “WhatsApp has done what every company must do if they care about end-to-end encryption and privacy.

The IT rules notified by the government are unconstitutional. In the garb of addressing misinformation and regulating technology companies, GoI has been exceeding the powers granted through subordinate legislation and using it for political purposes as is evident from the recent Twitter fracas. This is exactly the reason why the Free and Open Source Software community challenged these rules in the Kerala High Court. Technology companies need regulation but not at the expense of user rights.”

This seems like a big significant step taken by the WhatsApp company, to protect the privacy of its millions of Indian Users. Until now, this is all that we have with us. Follow Tech Aedgar on Google news, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more updates and Tech related updates.

Sk Jamil Ahemad

Coder, Blogger, Memer, Tech Enthusiast

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