Whatsapp Wants Govt To Stop Tracking Users; Moves Delhi High Court Against Govt
Not Complying With Government’s Rules
Now, the messaging app has to face a deadline to comply with the Indian government’s new rules for social media intermediaries.
According to this new rule, Facebook-owned messenger needs to make provisions for “identification of the first originator of the information”.
In response to this, WhatsApp has filed a petition on May 25, which is also the final date of compliance.
Further, it is learned that WhatsApp is invoking the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case to argue in its plea.
Traceability Provision Is Unconstitutional
It further says that the traceability provision is unconstitutional and against people’s fundamental right to privacy as underlined by the Supreme Court decision.
Moreover, it has prayed to declare traceability unconstitutional and stop it from coming into force, along with preventing criminal liability to its employees for noncompliance.
In the same regard, a WhatsApp spokesperson said, “Requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,”.
Further adding, “We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users. In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us,”.
Arguing the subject, they said that the traceability was contradictory to the concept of end-to-end encryption which tries to prevent others from finding out who sent a message.
Impossible To Implement
The traceability would force private companies to collect and store “who-said-what and who-shared-what” data for billions of messages daily just for the requirement of law enforcement agencies, according to WhatsApp.
WhatsApp also mentioned that it is impossible to understand the original context of many messages given that users are used to copy-pasting content seen on websites or social media platforms.
Further saying that the traceability cannot be implemented in a way that prevents tampering of the data given the massive scale and opens up such platforms to new vulnerabilities and makes them less secure.
WhatsApp argues that “traceability inverts the way law enforcement typically investigates crimes” in a new webpage that went live today.
WhatsApp’s Opposition To Traceability
Reasoning in the post titled, ‘What is traceability and why does WhatsApp oppose it?’
Saying that “In a typical law enforcement request, a government requests technology companies provide account information about a known individual’s account. With traceability, a government would provide a technology company a piece of content and ask who sent it first,”.
“In order to trace even one message, services would have to trace every message. That’s because there is no way to predict which message a government would want to investigate in the future. In doing so, a government that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance,” the post says.
Why Would This Happen?
A day earlier, Facebook had said it aimed to comply with the provisions of Information Technology rules and was in discussion with the government on a few more issues, on Tuesday.
Adding further said, “Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform,”.
The development came a day after the revelation that none of the three significant social media intermediaries — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — had yet appointed a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person as per the government norms announced on February 25.
Already, they were given three months to comply.
The IT Ministry had these intermediaries submit a monthly report on the number of grievances filed against the content on their platform as per the new rule.
Apart from that, they also wanted to have a provision for “identification of the first originator of the information”.