The short messaging application WhatsApp has filed a legal complaint in Delhi against the Indian government seeking to block regulations coming into force on Wednesday that would compel the chatting apps to break privacy protections.
The lawsuit, asks the Delhi High Court to declare that one of the new rules is a violation of privacy rights in India's constitution since it requires social media companies to identify the "first originator of information" when authorities demand it.
The California-based Facebook unit which has nearly 400 million users in India said that tracing chats is equivalent to keeping fingerprints of every single message and that would break the end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp says it would have break encryption for receivers, as well as "originators", of messages.
The complaint had been filed in court by WhatsApp, nor when it might be reviewed by the court. The people with knowledge of the matter declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The lawsuit escalates a growing struggle between Indian government and tech giants including Facebook, Google parent Alphabet and Twitter in one of their key global growth markets. The WhatsApp complaint cites a 2017 Indian Supreme Court ruling supporting privacy in a case known as Puttaswamy, the people familiar with it said
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, circulated by the ministry of information technology, designates "significant social media intermediaries" as standing to lose protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution if they fail to adhere to the code.
WhatsApp announced a policy update in January 2021, which requires more sharing of data between WhatsApp, Facebook, especially on users' chats with business accounts on the platform. WhatsApp has been repeating that the policy will not affect the privacy of users' personal messages. The update was originally to come into effect on February 8 but was pushed further following a repercussion over privacy concerns.
Experts back Whatsapp saying "The new traceability and filtering requirements may put an end to end-to-end encryption in India” also the imposition of decency and taste standards, is unsupported by the underlying law.