WhatsApp has sued the Indian government in the supreme court of Delhi on Tuesday, May 25, saying that new IT rules 2021 would expel the individual’s right to privacy. According to new rules, WhatsApp needs to trace the origin of every message that happens on the platform.
Government adds a clause to the IT rules 2021 which forces the technology companies to find the origin of the particular message sent on the platform. As we know, WhatsApp works on end-to-end encryption, this clause would undermine the privacy of billions of people who use WhatsApp to communicate.
WhatsApp has issued a detailed blog on “Traceability” explaining what a traceability clause is and how it will violate the basic human right of privacy. In this blog post, WhatsApp said that “reasonable and proportionate regulations for an increasingly digital world are important, but eroding privacy for everyone, violating human rights, and putting innocent people at risk is not the solution”.
Why is WhatsApp Against the Clause of Traceability?
WhatsApp introduced the concept of end-to-end encryption in the year 2016 intending to assure the users that calls, messages, photos, and video shared on the platform cannot be viewed by anyone except intended receipt, not even by WhatsApp.
While traceability is asking private messaging applications like Signal, WhatsApp to keep a record of every message sent and received on the application every day. So it is certain that “Traceability” will break WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. To trace even a single message WhatsApp has to keep an eye on all the messages. This is because there is no way that WhatsApp can predict which message will fall illegal in the government’s eye. In general, the traceability clause is intended to mandate mass surveillance on private messaging applications.
To comply with the new IT rules 2021, WhatsApp has to maintain a giant database that will include every message along with the information on the origin i.e. sender. WhatsApp would be collecting a lot of sensitive and private information of its users at a time when people favouring social media applications to keep privacy on their utmost priority.
Why Traceability Won’t Work?
WhatsApp believes that no traceability can be done without being susceptible to abuse. Millions of users download images from other sources and share them on WhatsApp, while some others take the screenshot and share it on WhatsApp. And as traceability law says that anyone who shared something even if they did not create it is responsible for it. Because of this approach, innocent people will also face legal complications and might even end up in jail.
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