India’s new social rules have come into effect today, on May 26, 2020. Big social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, among others were given three months to comply with the new guidelines to ensure smooth functioning. Unfortunately, most of the big social media platforms are yet to comply with the new rules and guidelines. While platforms such as Facebook and Google have assured to comply with the new IT rules, the secure messaging platform WhatsApp opposes the new guidelines.

As per the new IT rules, social media companies such as WhatsApp must have provisions for “identification of the first originator of the information”. This clearly goes against the basic policies of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption on all messages. Time and again, the Facebook owned messaging platform remined users, even at the time of announcing the updated privacy policy, that all messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted. In other words, no one, including WhatsApp as well as Facebook can read users’ private messages.

As per the messaging platform, India’s new IT rules kills the concept of end-to-end encryption, which ensures messages on the platform are secure and encrypted. Challenging this aspect of the new social rules, Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court. The petition was filed on May 25.

In an official statement to BGR India, a WhatsApp Spokesperson said, “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,” the spokesperson added.

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Despite challenging the new social rules, WhatsApp assured that it “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 us.

In an official new webpage published today, WhatsApp argues that “traceability inverts the way law enforcement typically investigates crimes”. “In a typical law enforcement request, a government requests technology companies provide account information about a known individual’s account. With traceability, a government would provide a technology company a piece of content and ask who sent it first,” the webpage further stated.

In order to trace even one message, services would have to trace every message. That’s because there is no way to predict which message a government would want to investigate in the future. In doing so, a government that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance,” the post further explained.

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