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WhatsApp Sues Indian Government: Says new rules will compromise the privacy of users

WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against the Indian Government in the Delhi High Court regarding the new digital rules enforced by the Government which will come into effect as of today, 26th May. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Google have already agreed to comply with the new digital rules but Whats App has denied complying as it will end their user’s privacy meaning there will be no more end-to-end encryption if they comply with the rules.

WhatsApp Sues Indian Government :

WhatsApp Sues Indian Government

What is a Lawsuit?

A lawsuit is a disagreement between people or organizations that is brought to a court of law for a decision. Whats App’s lawsuit asks the Delhi High Court to declare that one of the centre’s new rules is a violation of privacy rights in India’s constitution, as it requires the social media companies to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.

What are the new IT rules?

The new IT rules will require Facebook-owned WhatsApp to trace the origin of every message which is sent on the app which means keeping tabs on the first person who sends any message on Whats App. This will result in a direct violation of the privacy of users according to WhatsApp as it will break the end-to-end encryption.

The new rules will also enable the Indian Government to order the removal of any content posted on any social media platform which will be deemed as a threat to “National Security” and “Public Order” or violate the code of “Decency or Morality”.

On a broader scale, as per the new IT rules, the IT Ministry had these intermediaries submit a monthly report on the number of grievances filed against the content on their platform. It also wanted them to make provisions for “Identification of the first originator of the information”.

WhatsApp’s stance on it

A Whats App spokesperson said in a statement,  "Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that a requirement to ‘trace’ private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse. WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and we will continue to do all we can within the laws of India to do so".
Another statement by WhatsApp on this was, "Requiring messaging apps to 'trace' chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on Whats App, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people's right to privacy". WhatsApp has also released a blog on "What is traceability and why does WhatsApp oppose it?" on the official WhatsApp site.

What is End-to-End Encryption?

end-to-end encryption

End-to-end encryption simply means that the messages sent on WhatsApp are totally secure and no one else other than the user can get their hands on it. It also meant that no third-party applications, even Whats App, can see or read the messages sent on the app. WhatsApp’s stance against the new IT rules imposed by the Indian Government has been backed by many people as it would break the end-to-end encryption. And the new rules requiring Traceability are considered to be doing exactly that.

Public reaction

“WhatsApp should accept the law or leave the country. Just like it said ‘accept or lose account’ with its terms and conditions policy to Indian users. WhatsApp is NOT above LAW”.

“Good Government has no right to swoop into my messages”.

“India going one step ahead of North Korea”.

Whats App had already been under hot water recently when it announced its new privacy policy in January 2021 which led to an outrage among its users and saw a rise in the downloads of Signal and Telegram. Although Whats App is still ahead in terms of numbers against its competitors, these new IT rules can compromise the privacy of its users and lead to another mass exodus from Whats App to Signal or Telegram.

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