‘Respect right to privacy, new rules won’t affect functioning’- Technology News, FirstpostMay 26, 2021
FP StaffMay 26, 2021 19:16:30 IST
The Centre on Tuesday issued a clarification on WhatsApp’s lawsuit against the new IT rules saying that it respects the right to privacy and none of the new measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner.
#JUSTIN: Centre says it respects the Right to Privacy& has no intention to violate it when #WhatsApp is asked to disclose the origin of a particular message. This comes after WhatsApp moved the Delhi HC to challenge rule mandating it to identify the first originator of message pic.twitter.com/tPUCv7AE0g
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) May 26, 2021
Earlier on Wednesday, WhatsApp had sued the Indian government to stop what it said were oppressive new internet rules that would require it to make people’s messages “traceable” to outside parties for the first time. The lawsuit, filed by WhatsApp in the Delhi High Court, sought to block the enforceability of the rules that were handed down by the government this year.
The official statement by the Central Government said, “Such requirements are only in case when the message is required for prevention, investigation or punishment of very serious offences related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material.”
“It is in public interest that who started the mischief leading to such crime must be detected and punished. We cannot deny as to how in cases of mob lynching and riots etc repeated WhatsApp messages are circulated and recirculated whose content are already in public domain. Hence the role of who originated is very important,” the statement further read.
The press release also quoted Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying: “The Government of India is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security.”
“None of the measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact,” Prasad further said.
Government is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security.- says @rsprasad
— PIB_India MeitY (@MeityPib) May 26, 2021
WhatsApp, a service owned by Facebook that sends encrypted messages, claimed in its suit that the rules, which were set to go into effect Wednesday, were unconstitutional.
Suing India’s government is a highly unusual step by WhatsApp, which has rarely engaged with national governments in court. But the service said that making its messages traceable “would severely undermine the privacy of billions of people who communicate digitally” and effectively impair its security.
“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that a requirement to ‘trace’ private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said. “WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and we will continue to do all we can within the laws of India to do so.”
The rules that WhatsApp is objecting to were proposed in February by Prasad. Under the rules, the government could require tech companies to take down social media posts it deemed unlawful. WhatsApp, Signal and other messaging companies would also be required to create “traceable” databases of all messages sent using the service, while attaching identifiable “fingerprints” to private messages sent between users.
The lawsuit is part of a broadening battle between the biggest tech companies and governments around the world over which of them has the upper hand. Australia and the European Union have drafted or passed laws to limit the power of Google, Facebook and other companies over online speech, while other countries are trying to rein in the companies’ services to stifle dissent and squash protests. China has recently warned some of its biggest internet companies against engaging in anticompetitive practices.
With inputs from agencies