Social media messaging app WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government in Delhi seeking court intervention to prevent implementation of regulations that came into force on Wednesday which, according to experts, would force the California-based Facebook unit to break down its privacy protection measures, said reports quoting sources.
According to the case, WhatsApp has appealed to the Delhi High Court to identify one of the new rules as a violation of privacy rights as enshrined in India’s constitution because the rile directs social media companies to identify the “first originator of information” when demanded by authorities.
Even though the wordings in the new laws mandate that WhatsApp will have to identify only those people who have been credibly accused of wrongdoing, the company said that in practice it would not be able to do that alone. To comply to that law, WhatsApp will have to break encryption for receivers, as well as “originators”, of messages since all the messages on the platform are end-to-end encrypted.
Currently WhatsApp has more than 400 million users in India. There was not clarity whether the lawsuit had been accepted by the court or about when the country plans to hear the case.
There were no comments on the issue from WhatsApp.
According to reports quoting government officials dealing in this matter, WhatsApp has to find out a way for tracking down the originators of disinformation which has been a long-standing position of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and confirmed that the new rules does not mandate that the social media company break down its encryption.
This lawsuit comes at a time when there is a growing tussle between the Indian government under Modi and the tech giants including Facebook, Google parent Alphabet and Twitter – all of which consider India to be a crucial market for growth.
Earlier in the week, local police visited Twitter’s offices resulting in heightened tensions. It is pertinent to mention that the posts by a spokesman for the dominant party and others were marked by the micro-blogging service as containing “manipulated media” which essentially meant that the posts comprised of forged content.
There has also been pressure on the tech companies form the Indian government to remove not only what the government identified as being misinformation on the Covid-19 pandemic that is currently ravaging India, but also criticism of the government’s response to the crisis. A very devastating second wave of the pandemic is killing thousands of people every day in India.
There was much speculation about how the tech companies would respond to the new rules since they were unveiled in February and were slated to go into force 90 says since.
The new rules given the name of the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, designed by India’s technology ministry, designates “significant social media intermediaries” as standing to lose protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution if they fail to adhere to the code.
(Adapted from Business-Today.com)