The Centre responds to WhatsApp moving the Delhi High Court, says it respects the Right to Privacy and has no intention to violate it.
“Any operations being run in India are subject to the law of the land. WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with the guidelines is a clear act of defiance of a measure whose intent can certainly not be doubted.
“As a significant social media intermediary, WhatsApp seeks safe harbour protection as per provisions of the IT Act. However, in a befuddling act, they seek to avoid responsibility and refuse to enact the very steps which permit them a safe harbour provision.”
WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court challenging the government’s new digital rules saying the requirement for the company to provide access to encrypted messages will break privacy protections. The petition, filed on Tuesday evening, seeks declaring the rule requiring the message service provider to identify the first originator of any message flagged as a violation of privacy rights provided by the constitution.
A company spokesperson confirmed filing the petition. “Requiring messages 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,” the spokesperson said in a statement on Wednesday. “We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users.”
The petition came just as the new digital rules kicked in. Non-compliance with the rules could take away legal protection of social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp for user content posted on their platforms.
They previously enjoyed immunity for content posted by any third party user on their platforms. The new rules require them to take down any content flagged by the authorities within 36 hours, and set up a mechanism to respond to complaints.