WhatsApp has sued in Delhi against the Indian government seeking to dam regulations coming into force on Wednesday that experts say would compel Facebook’s (FB. O) messaging app to interrupt privacy protections, sources said. The case asks the Delhi supreme court to declare that one of the new IT rules could also violate privacy rights in India’s constitution since it requires social media companies to spot the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it, people conversant in the lawsuit told Reuters.
The WhatsApp lawsuit escalates a growing struggle between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and tech giants including Facebook, Google’s parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O), and Twitter (TWTR.N) in one among their key global growth markets. Tensions rose after police visited Twitter’s offices within the week. The micro-blogging service had labeled posts by a spokesman for India’s dominant party et al. as containing “manipulated media”, saying forged content was included.
New Delhi has also pressed tech companies to urge obviate what it’s described as misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging India. A couple of criticism of the government’s response to the crisis, which is claiming thousands of lives daily. While the new law only requires WhatsApp, which has half a billion users in India, to unmask people credibly accused of wrongdoing, it says it cannot in practice do that alone. WhatsApp says that because messages are encrypted end-to-end it’s got to break encryption for receivers of messages also because the originators suit the new law.
“Requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to retain a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which could break end-to-end encryption and undermine people’s right to privacy,” WhatsApp said during a press release when asked to debate the lawsuit. The sources familiar with the lawsuit declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the problem. A government official said WhatsApp could find the way to trace originators of disinformation, a long-standing stance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration, in which the U.S. company wasn’t being asked to interrupt encryption.