WhatsApp is suing the Indian government to protect user privacy

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

A WhatsApp spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that the requirement to ‘track’ 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 everything we can within the laws of India to do so.”

in a statment India’s Ministry of Information Technology, posted on Wednesday morning, said it would require WhatsApp to disclose who sent a message in cases related to “India’s sovereignty, safety and security, incitement to public order on an offense related to rape, sexually explicit material or child sex abuse material” .

She also indicated the spread of rumors and false information through the WhatsApp application Extrajudicial executions and riots In the past.

“Any operations conducted in India are subject to the law of the land,” the ministry statement added. WhatsApp refused to comply with [rules] It is an obvious verb [defiance]. “

More than 400 million of the 1.2 billion people who use WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, are from India.

Since 2016, messages and files sent via WhatsApp have been encrypted, which means that only the sender and receiver can see their contents. WhatsApp has always said that this is important for people’s privacy. But governments around the world, including United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Japan It has been Press apps like WhatsApp to crack this encryption, saying that the inability to trace who sent what posed a challenge to law enforcement. Digital rights organizations such as access now, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, And Mozilla It supported WhatsApp’s battle to maintain end-to-end encryption between parties. Reuters first mentioned about the lawsuit.

India’s recent age it rules It requires messaging platforms like WhatsApp to track content down to senders. It also gives the Government of India the power to require platforms that remove content that goes against “decency or morals” and threatens “national security” and “public order”. If companies do not comply with the new rules, their employees could face criminal action.

in a Blog post On its official website published late on Tuesday evening, WhatsApp said that “the government that chooses to enforce tracing is effectively authorizing a new form of mass surveillance.”

She also said that traceability violates human rights. “Innocent people can get caught up in investigations, or even go to prison for sharing content that subsequently becomes problematic in the government’s eyes even if they did not intend any harm by sharing it in the first place,” the WhatsApp post read. “A threat written by anyone that can be traced back to it takes away people’s privacy and will have a chilling effect on what people say even in private, violating the principles of free speech and universally recognized human rights.”

India is a large and important market for global technology giants. But recently, these companies have faced pressure from an increasingly authoritarian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last month, India Command Twitter, Facebook Instagram and YouTube to ban content critical of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, the police in Delhi Visit Twitter offices after the platform described some of the tweets posted by members of the ruling party as “manipulated media”.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo