Govt has no intention of violating privacy of individuals: RS Prasad


New Delhi: The Government of India has no intention to violate the privacy of individuals and the requirement to ask WhatsApp to disclose the origin of a particular message will only arise in the case of “Prevention, Investigation or Punishment” of very serious offences, the government said.

Union minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that “the Government of India is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security.” He added that none of the

measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact.

This comes after Facebook owned WhatsApp has filed a case against the new Indian IT Rules that come into effect from Wednesday. The Rules require firms like Whatsapp to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service. The case was filed in the Delhi High Court on 25 May. A spokesperson for the instant messaging service said “Requiring messaging apps 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 undermine people’s right to privacy.”

The company has consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of its users. “In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us,” it added.

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ET had reported on Tuesday that social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google and Twitter run the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and may become liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised regulations.

Google and Facebook had said on Tuesday that they are attempting to comply with the new Rules.

India has fixed five million registered users as the threshold for defining a significant social media intermediary. It has directed appointment of a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and nodal contact person and to publish the details of these executives on their website, along with a physical contact address. The rules also mandate traceability of the originator of messages, along with a provision for voluntary verification as a means to establish user identity.



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