WhatsApp sues government over new privacy rules

By VARINDIA - 2021-05-26

WhatsApp sues government over new privacy rules

WhatsApp has filed a case against the government of India in Delhi High court, for seeking to block regulations coming into force on Wednesday. The Rules require firms like Whatsapp to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service.

 

The case was filed in the Delhi High Court on 25 May. The Rules require firms like Whatsapp to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service. The case was filed in the Delhi High Court on 25 May.

 

A Spokesperson for the instant messaging service 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 undermines people’s right to privacy."

 

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 undermines people's right to privacy," WhatsApp, which has nearly 400 million users in India, said in a statement today.

 

The company has consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of its 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,” it says.

 

The petition asks the High Court to declare that one of the new rules is a violation of privacy under the constitution of India since it requires social media sites to identify the "first originator of information" when asked for it.

 

WhatsApp says messages on its platform are end-to-end encrypted, so to comply with the law it would have to break encryption for those who send and receive messages. It argues strongly against traceability of messages. Officials say "others parts of the government" have also taken issue with the traceability requirement.

 

End-to-end encryption ensures that nobody other than the receiver can see a particular message. This is the exact opposite of traceability, which would reveal who sent what to whom, officials point out.

 

Facebook on Tuesday said it is working to implement operational processes and aims to comply with the provisions of the IT rules that come into effect from May 26. However, Google and Facebook had said on Tuesday that they are attempting to comply with the new Rules.

 

India has fixed five million registered users as the threshold for defining a significant social media intermediary. It has directed appointment of a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and nodal contact person and to publish the details of these executives on their website, along with a physical contact address. The rules also mandate traceability of the originator of messages, along with a provision for voluntary verification as a means to establish user identity.


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