The Indian government and the country’s laws should define and protect the privacy of citizens, information technology industry veteran TV Mohandas Pai said on Wednesday as he accused large social media platforms like WhatsApp of “double standards”.
“Let the Court decide, not WhatsApp”, he said, commenting on WhatsApp filing a lawsuit in 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.
“This will go to Supreme Court”, Mohandas Pai, a known BJP supporter and former Chief Financial Officer of Bengaluru-headquartered IT major Infosys Ltd, predicted.
“The big issue is: should a private social media platform decide such matters by means of a one-sided contract or should regulations,” according to him.
“These platforms have now become public utilities as crores of people use them. Our data is not safe. They are subject to US law and their security agencies have full access to our data. So where is the privacy?” he asked.
“They (WhatsApp) have clear double standards. Our government and our law should define and protect our privacy, not these platforms,” Mr Pai told news agency PTI.
The new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were announced by the government on February 25 and it requires large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, among others to comply with the norms by May 25.
The rules require such large platforms to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
WhatsApp claimed the traceability provision is “unconstitutional” and “against the fundamental right to privacy”.
Confirming filing of the petition in the high court on Tuesday, the WhatsApp spokesperson said that “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.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)