Indian Govt Now Wants WhatsApp, Gmail & Others to Store User Data Only in Permitted Format!
A couple of months back, WhatsApp had decided to share user’s contacts with Facebook for ‘targeted marketing’ and no one was happy with that, except Facebook of course. The Delhi HC quickly responded that this cannot be stopped but the past user information should not be shared atleast.
WhatsApp agreed to that and wiped off all the stored user information in their database before 25th September. However, going forward WhatsApp will be sharing user’s contacts and usage patterns with Facebook and a lot of people are unhappy at the thought of that.
To finally enforce a law on sharing of user’s personal information, Government of India will draft a policy that will list down what kind of data WhatsApp and Gmail should store, in what format and for what duration. This is not limited to just these 2 services, but also other email and chat applications.
What the government is looking to do now is draft rules for Section 67C of the Information Technology Act, and this will be done by a committee that has been set up for the purpose. The rules -whose drafting has been waiting since 2008 -will spell out what type of data has to be stored, in which format, and for how long, according to three members of the newly-formed committee, the Economic Times notes.
To protect privacy as well, this law will allow Indians to be more secure and safe while transferring information. Other countries have also started drafting similar laws, thanks to the ease of sharing data through social media.
What will the law hold exactly?
Under the IT act, this law will bring under companies like WhatsApp, Gmail, Snapchat, Amazon, Telegram and Facebook and force them to store data for a specific time period only.
However, companies like WhatsApp and Snapchat, that have end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages might not come under this act. More so, other messaging services have started following the end-to-end encryption policy and the IT act will become difficult to implement.
All these companies have large data centres that store user information, usage patterns and other key elements that are extremely private to an individual. Such a law did not exist in India and considering the fact that these services are booming here, it makes sense to form a stricter law on information sharing.
Lastly, the Government has not specified how it plans to implement this rule, as there has to be a well rounded discussion with the Government as well as representatives from such companies.
Data breach is a concern of national security and the Government must balance security and openness in India. The Government may also decide the type and quantity of information to be stores, but such details are not clear yet. In all possibility, there could be a different rule for a different media type.