WhatsApp New Rules has challenged the Indian government’s traceability clause in the new Mediator Rule 2021, announced in February. Rules that affect social media intermediaries such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and others contain a clause that can force companies to identify the message or the sender of the message.
WhatsApp has argued that the clause is “unconstitutional” and violates the right to privacy. In response, the Indian government has called WhatsApp’s actions one defiance and pointed out that it comes with reasonable restrictions while they respect the right to privacy.
The new social media rules have also caused confusion, and The Indian Express had reported that none of the largest companies, be it Facebook and its app family or Twitter, complied with the rules. Here are seven points that explain the familiarity with this latest controversy.
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WhatsApp’s case against IT rules.
As indianexpress.com reported, WhatsApp new guidelines has said the new social media rules are unconstitutional and filed the case on May 25. Otherwise, it was also the last day for companies to comply with the new regulations. The Facebook-owned communications app relies on the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case to support the allegation.
WhatsApp wants the court to ensure that the clause does not affect and prevent criminal liability for non-compliance by its employees.
Traceability means that end-to-end encryption does not work
In a detailed blog post, WhatsApp has also explained that traceability does not work, arguing that a breach of end-to-end encryption (E2E) would compromise users’ privacy in the app and stifle free speech and free speech. E2E encryption is enabled by default in WhatsApp for all messages.
In addition, WhatsApp needs to redesign the app just for India, which is not happening. If WhatsApp follows the rules, it must create a version of the application that supports traceability and does not have E2E encryption.
WhatsApp new rules said in its blog that while it supports “reasonable and proportionate regulations,” it cannot support “undermining the privacy of all, violating human rights, and endangering innocent people.”
Traceability means a lot of data collection
WhatsApp clarifies in its blog post that to track the sender of messages, it must keep a log of all news. Currently, WhatsApp cannot read a user’s statement with E2E encryption.
It says that even tracking one message means following all the individual messages on the platform, and they have to add some sort of “permanent identity stamp” or “fingerprint” to almost every letter. It says this is in line with the mass surveillance program.
Traceability is not silly
WhatsApp and Internet experts have made it clear that traceability is not silly. In addition, when users forward, copy messages, it is difficult to find the originator. WhatsApp says it has to “translate the names of people who share something, even if they haven’t created it, shared it out of concern, or sent to check its correctness,” which would lead to human rights violations because innocent people could end up in investigations or go to jail.
Even if the messages are fingerprints on WhatsApp, these techniques are not confusing and can easily show up as another person. WhatsApp also says that “traceability” is at odds with the basic principles of law enforcement and investigation.
Government response to WhatsApp lawsuit
Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has called WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with the new IT rules a “clear defiance”. In addition, it has stated that the protection of privacy is reasonably limited, adding that social media companies require a message to be sent only in some instances and by order of a competent court.
The government also questioned WhatsApp’s own commitment to user privacy and said the company intends to “share all user information with its parent company, Facebook, for marketing and advertising purposes”.