The WhatsApp messaging service is suing the Indian government in the Supreme Court of Delhi, challenging new rules that will force it to violate encryption, potentially revealing the identities of people who sent and received billions of messages on its platform, WhatsApp spokesman told BuzzFeed News.
“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that the requirement to ‘track’ personal messages would violate end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse,” a WhatsApp spokesman told BuzzFeed News. “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.”
У statement released on Wednesday morning, India’s IT ministry said it would require WhatsApp to report only on who sent messages on cases related to India’s “sovereignty, integrity and security, incitement to public order to rape-related offenses character or sexual abuse of children by children ”.
He also noted that rumors and misinformation spreading on WhatsApp were caused lynching and riots in the past.
“Any operations conducted in India are subject to the laws of the country,” the ministry said in a statement. “WhatsApp’s refusal to comply [rules] it is an obvious act [defiance]. “
More than 400 million of the 1.2 billion people who use WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, are from India.
Since 2016, messages and files sent via WhatsApp are encrypted, which means no one but the sender and recipient can see their contents. WhatsApp has long said it is important for people’s privacy. But governments around the world, including USA, UK, Australia, Canada and Japan were pressure on programs like WhatsApp to break this encryptionsaying that the inability to track who sent what is causing problems in law enforcement. Digital rights organizations Access now,, Electronic Borders Foundation, and Mozilla supported WhatsApp’s struggle to preserve end-to-end encryption. Reuters first reported about the lawsuit.
India has adopted recently IT rules require messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, to track sender content. They also give the Indian government the power to request platforms that remove content that is contrary to “decency and morality” and threatens “national security” and “public order”. If companies do not comply with the new rules, their employees could face criminal charges.
У blog post on its official website, published late Tuesday, WhatsApp said that “the government, which has decided to trace the trace, is actually prescribing a new form of mass surveillance.”
It also says that tracking can violate human rights. “Innocent people can end up in an investigation or even go to jail for sharing content, which later becomes a problem for the government’s eyes, even if they don’t mean harm by sharing it in the first place,” WhatsApp said. “The threat that everything anyone writes can be traced to them, takes away people’s privacy and will have a cooling effect on what people say even in private, violating generally accepted principles of freedom of speech and human rights.”
India is a large and important market for the global technology giants. But recently, these companies have been under pressure from an increasingly authoritarian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last month India ordered Twitter, Facebook Instagram and YouTube to block content that critically assesses the government’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, police in Delhi visited Twitter offices after the platform called some tweets by members of the ruling party “manipulated media”.