Whatsapp has filed a complaint against the Modi led Government in Delhi, India to block new regulations that would compel the tech giant to break privacy protection.
One of the new rules requires social media companies to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it which is a violation of privacy rights in India’s constitution.
While the law states that the company will only be required to reveal people credibly accused of wrongdoings, whatsapp says that it is impossible to isolate one end like that as messages are end to end encrypted. The app would have to break encryption for both receivers and originators and is therefore asking the Delhi high court to declare it a violation of privacy rights.
A spokesperson for the company in a released statement said that“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.”
The lawsuit escalates a growing struggle between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and tech giants including Facebook, Googles parent company Alphabet Inc and Twitter in one of their key global growth markets.
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, disseminated by the ministry of information technology, allots “significant social media intermediaries” as standing to lose protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution if they fail to adhere to the code.
Among the new rules are requirements that big social media firms appoint Indian citizens to key compliance roles, remove content within 36 hours of a legal order, and set up mechanisms for swift response to complaints.
WhatsApp, Facebook and tech rivals have all invested heavily in India. But company officials worry privately that increasingly heavy-handed regulation by the Modi government could jeopardise those prospects.