Facebook-owned WhatsApp accuses the Indian government of new regulations that could allow authorities to conduct mass surveillance and undermine user privacy.
The messaging platform reported on Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court. He argued that India’s new “traceability” rules required technology companies to deliver details about the senders of private messages that violated the constitutional right to privacy of citizens.
In one blog postWhatsApp argued that traceability rules would force users to break the encryption between end points that hid user messages and pave the way for a “new way of mass surveillance”. Traceability rules were announced in February as part of the new social media regulations that will come into force on Wednesday.
“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that the requirement to“ trace ”private messages would break the final encryption and lead to real abuse,” WhatsApp said. “WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and to this end we will continue to do everything we can within the laws of India.”
The lawsuit was first reported by Reuters. The new rules will allow the government to remove messages it deems offensive, decrypt messages and regulate Internet streaming services and online news.
The demands have heightened tensions with social media companies. Twitter has been heavily rumored with New Delhi this week after the government party’s national spokesperson was named after a tweet that said the media was “manipulated”. Counter-terrorism police visited the company’s offices on Monday after receiving a complaint about the label.
Last week, the Indian Ministry of IT directed social media companies to remove what they called “misrepresentation” in “all the content that names or mentions the Indian variant of coronavirus”.
The country is the largest WhatsApp market with 530 million users, according to estimates by the Indian government. Late last year, the company got approval to launch a payment service in India after long delays.
“The government has dropped its legs,” said Jayanth Kolla, a technology analyst at Convergence Catalyst in Bangalore. “There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground right now to talk about.”