Phew! Supreme Court Rejects the Petition to Ban WhatsApp in India!
While WhatsApp is at an all time high these days, Sudhir Yadav, an RTI activist from Gurgaon, had filed a petition in Supreme court in May to ban WhatsApp application in India, simply because of the end-to-end encryption feature on the app.
WhatsApp’s reason for encryption was to safeguard all user chats from being deciphered or hacked through any other medium. Only the sender and receiver will be able to view the messages on their devices, and it sort of was a good thing from the company’s side. However, according to Yadav, such a feature imposes threat from terrorist activities in India.
In the case’s hearing on 29th Jun, Supreme Court dismissed Yadav’s petition to ban WhatsApp in India. The plea also emphasized on the fact that the encryption is so strong that no one can hack it, and WhatsApp doesn’t have any measures on their end to decode them.
Is Supreme Court right in doing this?
To be fair, and this is coming straight from a daily WhatsApp user, the encryption does help the users have their privacy, but at the cost of security. In fact this is not just about national security, even cases of murders and similar incidents get muffled by this so called encryption.
If you remember the 2015 San Bernardino attack, the iPhone used by the killers had to be unlocked to uncover some information related to the case itself. However, due to Apple’s security measures, even NSA could not break open the phone. Ultimately FBI took help from ‘specialized hackers’ to unlock the phone, which NSA had almost given up on.
Such a similar scenario is quite possible in India as well, which has witnessed its fair share of terrorism and unpleasant activities. Yadav’s theory is that there should be a balance between privacy and national security, and WhatsApp is more concerned about the former.
Brazil banned WhatsApp as soon as the company published its encryption policy, while the UK is searching for ways to reduce encryption. This new feature has put all the Governments around the world in a fix, and such a problem needs to be solved by a mutual agreement between WhatsApp and the Government.
What do you think about Supreme Court’s decision? Should WhatsApp continue to provide privacy at the cost of security or should there be a middle path so that everything is balanced?