WhatsApp sues Indian govt over new ‘mass surveillance’ internet laws

WhatsApp sues Indian govt over new ‘mass surveillance’ internet laws

WhatsApp messenger has reportedly sued the Government of India over new internet laws which the company states will be severely undermining the privacy of its users.

The new IT laws, that have been described as draconian and oppressive, provide greater power to the Indian government for monitoring online activity. This also includes activity on encrypted apps comprising Signal and WhatsApp.

The move signifies one of the first times when WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned encrypted messaging app, has initiated a lawsuit against the government of a nation. The company has also clashed with the Brazilian government over similar privacy concerns that led to the shutting down of the service multiple times.

In a petition heard in the High Court of Delhi, a lawyer for WhatsApp stated that a government that opts for mandating traceability is effectively mandating a new version of mass surveillance. The lawyer further added that for being able to trace even one message, services would have to trace every message. And, there is no way of predicting which message the Government of India would want to investigate in the future.

However, the Indian government strongly responded by putting out a statement that called the WhatsApp lawsuit a clear act of defiance. It also accused the company of a last-minute “unfortunate attempt” for preventing the rules from coming into effect.

Under the new laws, encryption that keeps communications on the app inaccessible and private to outside parties, would have to be stopped on WhatsApp in India and the messages would have to be placed in a traceable database.

It is to be noted that WhatsApp, a fundamental tool of communication in India, has over 400 million users across the country. The company stated that it would not be infringing the privacy of its users by storing their data.

The lawsuit was filed by the company on the basis that the new laws are unconstitutional and are a violation of the citizen’s right to the preservation of privacy, as mentioned in a 2017 ruling of the Supreme Court of India.

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Sunil Jha

Sunil Jha has been a part of the content industry for close to two years. Having previously worked as a voice over artist and sportswriter, he now focuses on writing articles for, across a slew of topics, ranging from technology to trade and finance. With a business-oriented educational background, Sunil brings forth the expertise of deep-dive research and a strategic approach in his write ups.