WhatsApp Sues Indian Government Over New Media Rules

Pablo Tucker
May 26, 2021

The WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement that the company "will not limit the functionality of how WhatsApp works in the coming weeks".

"Enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India on end-to-end encrypted platforms like WhatsApp is a much more serious invasion of privacy than requiring businesses to film public behaviour in public areas, as WhatsApp was created to facilitate the exchange of private communications", the petition says. "We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users", the spokesperson stressed.

Google on Tuesday cited its "long history" of managing content according to local laws to assure the Indian government of its continuing efforts to ensure legal compliance.

The spokesperson for the "social media intermediary" also stated that they would "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.", Indian Express reported.

The Facebook-owned messaging giant has announced that it won't restrict functionality of the app for users who don't accept its new privacy policy.

In a move that will come as a relief to its users, messaging giant WhatsApp has revealed that it will not restrict features if you don't accept its new privacy policy.

When the concept of "traceability" was first proposed in early 2019, dozens of organisations wrote to the Indian government about how such a provision would violate the privacy of Indian users. That's an issue because the only way WhatsApp can effectively abide by this rule is by breaking the end-to-end encryption baked into its service for all of its users. The company is now fighting the same before the Supreme Court of Brazil on a similar matter.

WhatsApp said the process of traceability can lead to ways for people to be "framed for things they did not say or do".

Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp were given three months to comply with these rules.

The new rules mandate that the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, must establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving/resolving complaints from the users or victims.

The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code says "significant social media intermediaries" or sites that host third party information, messages and posts stand to lose protection from lawsuits and prosecution if they fail to comply. Though several other governments, including US, UK, Australia, Canada and Japan, have also pushed WhatsApp to do away with its encryption policy, the company has maintained its ground so far.

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