WhatsApp sues Indian government over internet laws India

WhatsApp has sued the Indian government over new internet rules that the company says will “severely damage” the privacy of its users.

The new IT laws, which have been described as oppressive and disgusting, give the Indian government maximum power to monitor online activity, including on encrypted apps such as WhatsApp and Signal. They were approved in February but were due to take effect on Wednesday.

Under the rules, encryption – which keeps communications on the app private and does not have access to external parties – must be removed from the WhatsApp in India and the messages must be entered into a “spy” database. The government will then be able to identify and prosecute any content that is “illegal” against the sender.

The move marks the first time that WhatsApp, a secret messaging app owned by Facebook, has filed a lawsuit against the national government. The private company has clashed with the government in Brazil over similar privacy concerns, which has led to the service being shut down several times.

WhatsApp, which has more than 400 million users in India and is a major means of communication across the country, has said it will not protect its users’ data and will not violate their privacy. The company on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Delhi courts alleging that the new laws are unconstitutional and violate citizens’ right to privacy, as noted in a 2017 Supreme Court decision.

“Some governments are trying to force technology companies to find out who sent a special message about private messaging services. This concept is called ‘traceability,'” WhatsApp said in an online interview. “WhatsApp is committed to doing everything possible to protect the privacy of people’s private messages, which is why we are also opposed to spying on others,” the statement said.

The legal challenge is the latest escalation of the battle between the big tech companies that have a huge and growing consumer base in India, and the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has taken increasingly heavy-handed measures to overcome it. Raised online circle, which is seen as a place of disagreement.

In a petition filed in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday morning, a WhatsApp lawyer said: “A government that chooses to mandate intelligence is effectively mandating a new form of large-scale surveillance. ۔

He said that in order to trace the same message, the services have to trace each message. There is no way to predict which message the Indian government would like to investigate in the future.

Responding harshly, the Indian government called WhatsApp’s case a “clear deviation” and accused the company of making a last-minute “unfortunate attempt” to block the implementation of the regulation.

The government has denied any wrongdoing, calling the laws a “reasonable restriction” on the right to privacy. The Ministry of Information and Technology has said that in the past, WhatsApp messages have caused widespread unrest and mismanagement, and therefore it was in the public interest to expose and punish those who initiated such misconduct. It is important to know who initiated the message.

This is not the first time that tensions have arisen between WhatsApp and the Indian government. In 2019, Modi pointed a finger at the government after WhatsApp claimed that Indian journalists, scholars and activists were among those targeted by spyware, which meant that their Personal information can be accessed remotely.

WhatsApp alleges that the NSO group’s software was used to target users and that it filed a lawsuit against the Israeli firm in the United States. The NSO group has previously denied the allegations, saying it should be exempted from such cases because its clients are foreign governments and those responsible for deploying the software.

The company has argued that its government clients only use its technology against terrorists and criminals, and that it is not a secret who has been targeted by its surveillance tools. The Indian government has denied any responsibility.

On Wednesday, the government wrote a letter to all social media companies operating in India asking them to respond to how they are complying with the new IT rules.

The Modi government has already clashed repeatedly with Twitter and the site is demanding the removal of anti-government tweets related to farmers’ protests earlier this year and recent tweets criticizing the government’s handling of the epidemic. Was done

Twitter has complied with some of the requests and has not made some posts available for viewing inside India, but has refused to comply with others. Facebook and Instagram were also recently instructed to remove anti-government posts citing the Corona virus, which could create “panic”.

Under the new IT rules, social media companies will have to remove content within 36 hours of the legal order and appoint an “Indian-based” compliance officer to deal with any complaints. These rules also apply to online media, and it has been called more ridiculous to the media in India.

On Monday, Delhi Police, which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs, arrived late at night at the empty Delhi Twitter office, which was initially called a “raid”. The company was later cleared as a legal notice after a tweet from a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician was branded as “manipulative media”. The tweet was from a document showing evidence that it was fake.

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