Wednesday, September 28

“WhatsApp lawsuit of defiance”, Government Respects Right to Privacy


Addressing WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with new IT rules as a “clear act of defiance” the ministry of electronics and information technology has said that having respect for the right to privacy doesn’t refer to unlimited rights and will come with reasonable restrictions. The government was acknowledging WhatsApp’s lawsuit against the new IT rules, which was filed in the Delhi high court on May 25, the last date of the compliance with the new IT rules.

“The Government of India is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that “none of the measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact.”

While addressing a debate of end-to-end encryption as misplaced, Prasad said, “Whether Right to Privacy is ensured through using encryption technology or some other technology is entirely the purview of the social media intermediary. It is WhatsApp’s responsibility to find a technical solution, whether through encryption or otherwise, that both happen.” The main concern of WhatsApp is that traceability will require every single message to follow the rules and it will break the end-to-end encryption protocol.

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In a press release, the government of India said it recognizes that “right to privacy” is the fundamental right and committed to ensuring the same to its citizens. It further added that “as per all established judicial dictum, no Fundamental Right, including the Right to Privacy, is absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions.”

In its appeal, WhatsApp has called on the 2017 justice KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India case to claim that the traceability provision is unconstitutional and violates the people’s fundamental rights to privacy as highlighted by the supreme court decision.

However, the press release also questioned the commitment to user privacy from the platforms owned by Facebook. “At one end, WhatsApp seeks to mandate a privacy policy wherein it will share the data of all its user with its parent company, Facebook, for marketing and advertising purposes. On the other hand, WhatsApp makes every effort to refuse the enactment of the Intermediary Guidelines which are necessary to uphold law and order and curb the menace of fake news.”

Moreover, the government also responded by saying that WhatsApp is only required to trace the crater of the message only in case when the message is needed for the investigation, prevention, or punishment of a serious offense related to the integrity and sovereignty of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or of incitement to an offense related to the discussed or in relation with rape, sexually blunt material or child sexual abuse material.

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