After the deadline to comply with the new social media rules ends on May 25, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has moved Delhi High Court challenging one clause of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which requires identification of the first originator of the information. The petition was filed on May 25.
With invoking the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case, the petitioner has contended that traceability is undermining the people’s fundamental right to privacy and has prayed to declare it unconstitutional. WhatsApp has also prayed to prevent criminal liability to its employees for non-compliance.
“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. We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our 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,” said a WhatsApp spokesperson.
The messaging app argues that traceability is contradictory to end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp also stated that traceability would force private companies to collect and store “who-said-what and who-shared-what” data for billions of messages daily just for the requirement of law enforcement agencies.
It further submitted that it is imposable to understand the original context of many messages given that users are used to copy pasting content seen on websites or social media platforms and traceability cannot be implemented in a way that prevents tampering of the data given the massive scale and opened up such platforms to new vulnerabilities and makes them less secure.
Last night was intense for all the netizens as there were millions of speculations that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other social media apps will be banned in India after not complying with the new social media rules. But everyone took a sigh of relief after finding that the apps are still accessible in India.