WhatsApp accuses Indian authorities of trying to spy on users

WhatsApp on Tuesday night filed a lawsuit in the High Court of New Delhi, in which it accuses Indian authorities of seeking to monitor users of the messenger. WhatsApp is demanding the removal of recently introduced rules in the country that require technology companies to track encrypted messages from users. In the lawsuit, the service, owned by the Facebook corporation, notes that these rules are contrary to Indian law, as they violate the rights of citizens to confidentiality and privacy.

The regulations, prepared by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India, were presented in February. They allow the country’s authorities to remove content that, in their opinion, undermines national security, public order or norms of “decency and morality.” At the same time, technology companies must track such content to the final author, in case of violation of the rules, employees of companies in India could be criminally liable. The 90-day period, during which the new rules were in effect on a recommendatory basis, will now come into effect in full on Wednesday.

WhatsApp, in turn, notes that such requirements of the authorities, among other things, will force the company to break the encryption of messages and seriously undermine the privacy of user data. According to the company, the government is “effectively introducing a new form of mass surveillance” and is violating Indian law. WhatsApp is the most popular messenger in India, with over 400 million users in the country.

This is not the first recent conflict between Indian authorities and Western tech companies. Twitter’s New Delhi office was ransacked last week after the service flagged some tweets from a spokesman for the ruling Indian People’s Party as potentially misleading. In April, the Indian authorities demanded that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram remove about a hundred posts, the authors of which criticized the actions of local authorities in the fight against COVID-19.

How they reacted to the new WhatsApp policy in Russia – in the material of Kommersant FM “WhatsApp dictates its own rules.”

Yana Rozhdestvenskaya