Social media messaging giant WhatsApp has moved Delhi High Court, challenging the new IT Rules of the Central government, stating that the provision of “traceability” in the new IT Rules is a violation of the right to privacy as per the Constitution.
The company, which has over 2.5 billion users worldwide, has said: “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,” said the WhatsApp spokesperson.
The last date to comply with the new IT Rules brought out by the Union government was May 25.
The definition of “Traceability” given on the WhatsApp Company Website is, “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’.”
It further stated: “Technology and privacy experts have determined that traceability breaks end-to-end encryption and would severely undermine the privacy of billions of people who communicate digitally. Reasonable and proportionate regulations for an increasingly digital world are important, but eroding privacy for everyone, violating human rights, and putting innocent people at risk is not the solution. WhatsApp is committed to doing all we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages, which is why we join others in opposing traceability.”
Later in the day, Union Law Minister Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad released a statement, saying, “The Government of India recognises that ‘Right to Privacy’ is a Fundamental right and is committed to ensure the same to its citizens.”
He added in his statement: “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.”
Read petition below.WhatsApp-v.-Union-of-India-Filing-Version