WhatsApp can be banned in India after new rules if it refuses to dilute privacy protection

WhatsApp can be banned in India after new rules if it refuses to dilute privacy protection



WhatsApp can be banned in India after new rules if it refuses to dilute privacy protection

WhatsApp, in the past, has put down a government request to trace message origin on the platform citing it will undermine end-to-end encryption.

HIGHLIGHTS

The government has notified the new IT Rules 2021.

Social media platforms need accountability against their misuse and abuse.

The government says new rules around social media platforms have a soft-touch oversight mechanism.

The government of India on Thursday announced the all-new Information Technology Rules 2021, which include intermediary guidelines and a digital media ethics code. While the new rule will take some time to come into effect, the government has put forward a firm stand to identify a message's originators. 

This means that platforms like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram and others that use end-to-end encryption for messages may have to break it to comply with the government's new rule.

Announcing the new Information Technology Rules 2021, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday pointed out that if a tweet or message has not originated in India, then the app must tell the government who in India received it first.

Notably, WhatsApp had earlier put down government requests to identify the origin of messages citing it could break end-to-end encryption.

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" Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. 

WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections we provide," a WhatsApp spokesperson said in a statement back in 2018.

Under the new rule, popular social media platforms like WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others, will come under the new guidelines laid by the government on Thursday.

" Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information that is required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to 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 punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years," the government said in its new rule announced on Thursday.

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