Social media giant Facebook on Tuesday said it aimed to comply with the provisions of India’s new IT rules for intermediaries which come into effect today. The company added, however, that it continued to discuss the issues related to the new guidelines with the government.

The three-month deadline for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to comply with new stricter rules came to an end on Tuesday even as at least five industry bodies, including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII )and the US-India Business Council (USIBC), have written to the government for up to a one-year compliance window.

It did not take long however, for the story to gain a lot more nuance. As we write this newsletter today, news has emerged that the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp moved the Delhi High Court yesterday against the new IT Rules that require instant messaging platforms to aid in identifying the ‘originator’ of messages.

Among the new rules are provisions which make it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram to aid in identifying “originator” of “unlawful” messages, while also requiring social media networks to take down such messages within a specific time frame, set up grievance redressalmechanism as well as assist government agencies in investigation.

“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 undermines people’s right to privacy,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the messaging platform had consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of its users.

The Union government and WhatsApp have been at loggerheads over tracing the origin of fake/unlawful messages for over two years now and the messaging platform has consistently refused to comply with the government’s demands.

“WhatsApp has done what every company must do if they care about end-to-end encryption and privacy. The IT rules notified by the government are unconstitutional,” Mishi Choudhary, founder, Software Freedom Law Centre, India, told The Hindu today. The new rules may have come into force today but the battle over various aspects of implementation has only just begun. (The hindu)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here