WhatsApp sues government over new IT rules seeking origins of inflammatory messaging

NEW DELHI: Facebook-owned American instant messenger WhatsApp has sued the Indian government in Delhi high court on a day the new rules for social media giants came into effect which require internet companies to “trace” the origins of inflammatory messages sent on the service.
WhatsApp said that this law will mean breaking the end-to-end encryption given in the company’s service, and “fundamentally undermines people’s right to 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. We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users,” it said, adding that it will “continue to engage with the Government on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us.”
The new IT rules came into effect from today and, among other things, mandate that internet companies cannot withhold information on the source of unlawful and inflammatory messaging beyond 72 hours when asked by investigating and cyber security agencies.

“Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information that is required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years,” the new rules state, though the government had said that the companies will “not be required to disclose the contents” of any message or any other information.