Over the last two days, Indians have been fearful that social networking apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter could be banned from operating in the country because these firms failed to comply with new IT rules released to regulate the digital space in February.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday approached the Delhi High Court by filing a legal complaint urging to push back the enforcement of IT rules announced by federal Ministers Ravi Prasad Sharma and Prakash Javedkar on 25 February.
In its filing, WhatsApp expressed concerns about one specific IT rule, stipulating that social networking platforms have to reveal the originator of a said post if the government wishes to trace it. With this rule, the Indian government has been aiming to check the spread of fake news in India among the nation’s more than 700 million social networking app users.
“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”, reads the WhatsApp statement submitted to the Delhi High Court as obtained by Sputnik.
Hoping to open routes to discussion on the subject with the Indian government, WhatsApp’s statement further noted that the company will “continue to engage with the government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to” the app.
Along with requiring social networking apps to reveal the origin of problematic content per a government request, India’s IT rules have also directed Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to appoint designated officers to tend to user grievances and coordinate with security agencies around the clock.
The three-month deadline that was extended by the government for these platforms to accept the intermediary IT rules ended on 25 May.
While Facebook’s WhatsApp has filed a complaint against the government’s rules in the Delhi High Court, Twitter so far has remained silent on the matter.