WhatsApp’s Facebook property is suing the Indian government for new regulations that say they could allow the authorities to do mass surveillance and undermine users ’privacy.
The messaging platform said Wednesday that it had filed the case in the Delhi High Court. He argued that India’s new “traceability” rules, which required technology companies to disclose details about senders of private messages, violated citizens ’constitutional right to privacy.
In a blog post, WhatsApp has argued that traceability rules will force it to break end-to-end encryption that would hide users ’messages and pave the way for“ a new form of mass surveillance ”. Traceability rules were announced in February as part of new social media regulations that are due to go into effect Wednesday.
“Civil society and technical experts around the world have always argued that a need to‘ track ’private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuses,” WhatsApp said. “WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and will continue to do everything we can in India’s laws to do so.”
The cause was first reported by Reuters. The new rules will allow the government to abandon posts it deems offensive, decrypt messages and regulate internet streaming services and online news.
The requirements have increased tensions with social media companies. Twitter had a high-profile spree with New Delhi this week after it labeled a tweet from the ruling party’s national spokesperson as “manipulated media”. Anti-terrorist police visited the company’s offices Monday after receiving a complaint about the label.
Last week, India’s IT ministry ordered social media companies to curb what it called disinformation, removing “all content that names, refers to or implies“ Indian variant ”of coronavirus”.
The country is the largest WhatsApp market with 530m users, according to Indian government estimates. At the end of last year, the company gained approval to launch its payment service in India after extended delays.
“The government has put its foot down,” said Jayanth Kolla, technology analyst at Bangalore-based Convergence Catalyst consultant. “It doesn’t seem like a middle ground to talk about now.”