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  • Voltaire Staff

WhatsApp goes... if told to break encryption: Firm tells Delhi HC over IT Rules

Meta-owned WhatsApp has threatened to withdraw from India if it is coerced into compromising the encryption safeguarding messages and calls on its platform.

The widely used instant-messaging platform made the declaration arguing against the changed IT rules before the Delhi High Court on Thursday.

WhatsApp, standing against the changes in the IT rules, argued that the alterations were implemented without prior discussion and are detrimental to user privacy, reported HT.

Tejas Karia, representing WhatsApp in court, said that individuals opt for the mobile application due to its strong privacy protections. The company contended that the changed rules infringe upon users' fundamental rights as outlined in Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.

"As a platform, we are saying, if we are told to break encryption, then WhatsApp goes," Karia, told a Delhi high court bench, which was hearing the firm's plea.

Karia claimed that no such regulations have been enforced elsewhere globally.

He highlighted the impracticality of complying with the requirement to maintain a "complete chain" of messages, as WhatsApp wouldn't know which messages might require decryption.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity), representing the central government, has contested the petition filed by Facebook and WhatsApp, claiming their refusal to provide users with a dispute resolution mechanism violates their fundamental rights.

Meity informed the Delhi High Court that failure to implement the rules could impede law enforcement agencies' ability to track the source of false messages, potentially jeopardising peace, harmony, and public order in the country.

WhatsApp had earlier said that it cannot comply with the rules withut breaching users' privacy.

"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," it had said.


The central government created the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, instructing OTT and digital platforms to establish grievance redressal systems.

According to these rules, social media platforms must reveal the identity of the "first originator of information" upon request.




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