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WhatsApp takes Indian government to court over new social media laws

WhatsApp argues the laws would force it to break encryption and go against privacy rights in the country.

Published onMay 26, 2021

WhatsApp by Facebook stock photo 6
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • WhatsApp is taking the Indian government to court after the latter implemented new social media laws.
  • The laws could force WhatsApp and other social media platforms to break encryption to trace the origins of messages when required.
  • WhatsApp argues that this goes against privacy rights in India and could lead to “real abuse.”

WhatsApp and the Indian government’s recent tug-of-war has taken another turn. The Facebook-owned company has now filed a legal complaint against the Indian government in a bid to declare its new social media laws unconstitutional.

According to Reuters, the new laws would require WhatsApp to break end-to-end encryption on its platform to find receivers and original message authors when authorities request. This, WhatsApp argues, is against privacy rights in India.

The laws dubbed the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, announced in February, is a bid by the Indian government to make social media firms “more responsible and accountable,” per India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. India’s new laws also cover government cooperation when ordered to remove content or assist in cyber-related investigations. Companies will also need to implement a complaints response system, among other requirements.

Notably, this law doesn’t just affect WhatsApp, but every other social media and messaging firm, too. This includes WhatsApp’s rivals Telegram and Signal.

WhatsApp’s push back against the Indian government comes after it announced controversial changes to its own privacy policy. The Indian government called its new policy “discriminatory, unfair, and irresponsible,” per Reuters.

Nevertheless, WhatsApp believes the Indian government’s new laws could “lead to real abuse,” it told Axios in a statement. The company is also “committed to protecting the privacy of people’s personal messages and we will continue to do all we can within the laws of India to do so.”

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