WhatsApp sues the Indian government over ‘mass surveillance’ internet laws.
WhatsApp has filed a legal complaint in Delhi against the Indian government. They are seeking to block regulations coming into force on Wednesday that experts say would compel the California-based Facebook (FB.O) unit to break privacy protections, sources said.
The lawsuit, described to us by people familiar with it. They ask the Delhi High Court to declare that one of the new rules violates privacy rights in India’s constitution. It requires social media companies to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.
WhatsApp is on actions against the Indian government.
WhatsApp has sued the Indian government over new internet laws. By and large, which the company says will “severely undermine” the privacy of its users.
The new IT laws, called oppressive and draconian. It gives the Indian government greater power to monitor online activity, including encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal. This regulation rule passed in February but was due to come into effect on Wednesday.
The government has also pressed the tech companies to remove what it has described as misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging India. However, some criticism of the government’s response to the crisis is claiming thousands of lives daily.
The companies’ response to the new rules has been a subject of intense speculation. As such, the end-to-end encryption will have to break apart to appeal to the calls of the government of India. The company said that it is not possible, Reuters mentioned in the same report.
9to5game could not independently confirm that either, WhatsApp has filed a case in court. Above all, which has nearly 400 million users in India, nor when the court might review it. The people with knowledge of the matter declined to associate because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, promulgated by the ministry of information technology, designates “significant social media intermediaries” as standing to lose protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution if they fail to adhere to the code.
WhatsApp, its parent 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 jeopardize those prospects.
New regulation In a nutshell
Among the new rules are requirements that big social media firms appoint Indian citizens to key compliance roles. They ask to remove content within 36 hours of legal order and set up a mechanism to respond to complaints. They must also use automated processes to take down pornography.
Facebook has said that it agrees with most of the provisions but is still looking to negotiate some aspects. Twitter, which has come under the most fire for failing to take down posts by government critics, declined to comment.
Some in the industry are hoping for a delay in introducing the new rules while such objections have been heard.
Above all, WhatsApp has over 400 million users in India and is a fundamental tool of communication across the country. They had previously said it would not store the data of its users. The company filed a lawsuit in the Delhi courts on Wednesday because the new laws are unconstitutional and a violation of citizen’s right to the preservation of privacy, as mentioned in a 2017 supreme court ruling.
“Some governments are seeking to force technology companies to find out who sent a particular message on private messaging services. This concept is called ‘traceability,’” said WhatsApp in an online statement.
“WhatsApp is committed to doing all we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages. Secondly, which is why we join others in opposing traceability.”
The bottom line
The legal challenge is the latest escalation of a battle between big tech companies with a huge and growing user base in India. And the Indian government, led by prime minister Narendra Modi, has brought in increasingly heavy-handed measures to regulate the online sphere, which is seen as a space for dissent.
A lawyer for WhatsApp told the Delhi high court: “A government that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance.
“To trace even one message, services would have to trace every message. There is no way to predict which message the Indian government would want to investigate in the future.”
The Modi government has already clashed repeatedly with Twitter, demanding that the site remove anti-government tweets related to the farmers’ protests earlier this year and, more recently, tweets criticizing the government’s handling of the pandemic.
This is one of the first times that WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging app owned by Facebook, has filed a lawsuit against a national government. WhatsApp has also clashed with the government in Brazil over similar privacy concerns, which led to various conflicts between them.