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WhatsApp Goes: Platform Reportedly Warns It Will Exit India If Asked to Break End-to-End Encryption

The statement was reportedly made by advocate Tejas Karia, representing WhatsApp in front of the Delhi High Court.

WhatsApp Goes: Platform Reportedly Warns It Will Exit India If Asked to Break End-to-End Encryption

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Christian Wiediger

WhatsApp recently added Passkey support for its iOS app

  • WhatsApp had challenged the amended IT rules
  • The rule requires platforms to reveal the originator of certain messages
  • WhatsApp said the new rule was introduced without its consultation

WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that it might stop operations in India if it is asked to break end-to-end encryption on its platform, as per a report. The Meta-owned instant messaging platform made the statement during the hearing of the petition filed by it and Facebook challenging Rule 4(2) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Notably, this rule states that a social media intermediary shall help identify the first originator of a certain message when a competent authority orders it to.

According to a report by Bar and Bench, advocate Tejas Karia, who was representing WhatsApp told a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, “As a platform, we are saying, if we are told to break encryption, then WhatsApp goes.” Karia also highlighted that people use the platform as they feel reassured by its focus on privacy and security and because the messages are end-to-end encrypted.

The advocate was referring to Rule 4(2) which states, “A significant social media intermediary providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource as may be required by a judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or an order passed under Section 69 of the Act by the Competent Authority.”

Karia further argued that this rule will force WhatsApp to store millions of messages on its server for multiple years as the platform does not know which messages might be asked to be decrypted. This effort could also stress the cloud servers of the platform and make the running and upkeep of the servers more expensive. Karia highlighted that WhatsApp has not been asked to share this information anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, Kirtiman Singh, the Central Government Standing Counsel (CGSC) contended the position that there is a need to have some mechanism on social media to trace certain messages. The Court has held the position that a balance must be struck between both sides. The case has been adjourned to August 14.

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Further reading: WhatsApp, India, End-to-end encryption
Akash Dutta
Akash Dutta is a Senior Sub Editor at Gadgets 360. He is particularly interested in the social impact of technological developments and loves reading about emerging fields such as AI, metaverse, and fediverse. In his free time, he can be seen supporting his favourite football club - Chelsea, watching movies and anime, and sharing passionate opinions on food. More
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