After not complying with the new intermediary rules, WhatsApp has sued the Government of India in New Delhi. The Facebook-owned company alleges that the new rules are against the Right to Privacy. The new guidelines would allow the Government of India to identify the sender of a message. The move comes after the government cracks down not the spread of fake news and misinformation via that platform.
WhatsApp has also published an FAQ page on its website to shed some more light into the issue.
“Traceability” is intended to do the opposite by requiring private messaging services like WhatsApp to keep track of who-said-what and who-shared-what for billions of messages sent every day. Traceability requires messaging services to store information that can be used to ascertain the content of people’s messages, thereby breaking the very guarantees that end-to-end encryption provides. In order to trace even one message, services would have to trace every message.
WhatsApp also argues about the new rules as a violation of human rights. They could lead to innocent people getting jailed just because they shared a particular message out of curiosity or to check the authenticity of the message. Experts seem to side with WhatsApp’s argument as of now.
In March, Stanford Internet Observatory scholar Riana Pfefferkorn wrote, “The new traceability and filtering requirements may put an end to end-to-end encryption in India. The revised intermediary rules put the whole country’s security at risk. Amid a global backsliding for internet freedom, the proposal may offer an example for other would-be authoritarians to follow.”
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