2021-07-14 13:26:28 WhatsApp Is Suing The Indian Government To Protect The User Privacy

WhatsApp Is Suing The Indian Government To Protect The User Privacy

A WhatsApp spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the messaging service is suing the Indian government in the Delhi High Court, challenging new rules that would force it to break its encryption, potentially revealing the identities of people who had sent and received billions of messages on its platform.

“Civil society and technical experts all over the world have consistently argued that requiring users to ‘trace’ private messages would undermine end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages, and we will continue to do everything possible within Indian laws to do so.”

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, India’s IT ministry stated that it will only require WhatsApp to reveal who sent a message in cases involving “India’s sovereignty, integrity, and security, public order incitement to an offence relating to rape, sexually explicit material, or child sexual abuse material.”

It also stated that in the past, rumors and misinformation spread via WhatsApp have resulted in lynchings and riots.

“Any operations conducted in India are subject to the laws of the land,” the ministry added in its statement. “WhatsApp’s refusal to follow the [rules] is an open act of [defiance].”

India accounts for over 400 million of the 1.2 billion people who use WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.

Messages and files sent through WhatsApp have been encrypted since 2016, which means that only the sender and receiver can see their contents. WhatsApp has long stated that this is critical for people’s privacy. Governments around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Japan, have pressed apps like WhatsApp to break the encryption, claiming that not being able to track who sent what poses a challenge to law enforcement. Access Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Mozilla have all lent their support to WhatsApp’s fight to keep end-to-end encryption. The lawsuit was first reported on by Reuters.

According to India’s recently enacted IT rules, messaging platforms such as WhatsApp must trace content back to senders. They also give India’s government the authority to request that platforms remove content that violates “decency or morality” and endangers “national security” and “public order.” If businesses fail to comply with the new rules, their employees may face criminal charges.

WhatsApp stated in a blog post published late Tuesday on its official website that a “government that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance.”

It also claimed that traceability would be a violation of human rights. “Innocent people may be caught up in investigations or even imprisoned for sharing content that later becomes a problem in the eyes of a government, even if they did not intend any harm by sharing it in the first place,” WhatsApp stated in its post. “The threat that anything someone writes can be traced back to them violates people’s privacy and chills what people say even in private settings, violating universally recognized principles of free expression and human rights.”

For global technology behemoths, India is a sizable and vital market. However, in recent times, these companies have come under increasing pressure from an authoritarian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last month, India directed that content critical of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic be blocked on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Police in Delhi visited Twitter’s offices earlier this week after the platform labeled some tweets by members of the ruling party as “manipulated media.”

Source link

Other News

Subscribe to our World NEWS Letter

WhatsApp Is Suing The Indian Government To Protect The User Privacy