WhatsApp sues Indian government over new media rules: report

WhatsApp lawsuit says the new rules as a violation of privacy rights.

Highlights
  • WhatsApp has filed a legal complaint against the Indian government in the Delhi High Court.
  • The popular messaging app seeks to block the regulations that come into force from May 26th.
  • WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

In what can be seen as a surprising move, WhatsApp has filed a legal complaint against the Indian government seeking to block the regulations that come into force from May 26th i.e today. These regulations would require that Facebook and its companies break privacy protections, as per sources. According to Reuters citing people familiar with the matter, the WhatsApp lawsuit asks the High Court to label the new rules as a violation of privacy rights in India’s constitution considering that it needs social media companies to identify the “first originator of information” when officials demand it.

Also read: Twitter ban on May 26th? Users are already saying “good bye” to the social media app

The law requires WhatsApp to point the people accused of any wrongdoing, the messaging giant says that it cannot do that considering all the chats are end-to-end encrypted. To company with the law, WhatsApp says it will have to break encryption for receivers as well as originators of messages. While a WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, Reuters says it couldn’t independently confirm the complaint that was filed in court by WhatsApp nor if it would be reviewed by the court. Social media companies had 90 days to respond to the new rules set by the ministry of information technology before they come into effect. Failing will result in loss of protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

The new media rules require social media companies to appoint Indian citizens to key roles for due diligence, remove flagged content within 36 hours of a legal order, employ a resident grievance officer, and even use an automated process to take down pornography. Facebook clarified that it agrees with most of the provisions but is still looking to negotiate some aspects. However, Twitter declined to comment.

The new media rules require social media companies to appoint Indian citizens to key roles for due diligence, remove flagged content within 36 hours of a legal order.

WhatsApp’s complaint cites a 2017 Supreme Court ruling in support for privacy in a case of ‘Puttaswamy’, according to sources. The court back then found the privacy must be preserved except in cases where legality, necessity, and proportionality all weighed against it. WhatsApp says that the law fails all three of those tests.

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