The Delhi High Court said on Friday that it will hear requests from Facebook and WhatsApp to challenge the new IT rules for social media intermediaries on August 27, requiring the messaging app to track chat records and make provisions to identify the first information originator , On the grounds: They violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.
Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh (Jyoti Singh) in the representative center’s Deputy Attorney General Tushar Mehta (Tushar Mehta) stated that he encountered some difficulties and urged the court to adjourn on August 27. The matter was listed on the day.
The request was not opposed by senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared in court for WhatsApp and Facebook, respectively.
The government announced the new information technology (intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code) rules for 2021 on February 25, and required large social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp to comply with these rules by May 25.
In its request, Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, stated that it requires middlemen to be able to identify the first information originator in India based on government or court orders, which puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits “at risk.”
WhatsApp LLC has urged the High Court to declare that Article 4(2) of the Intermediate Rule is unconstitutional, ultra vires, and violates the Information Technology Act, and requires no criminal responsibility for any suspected violation of Article 4(2). ) This needs to be able to identify the first initiator of the message.
WhatsApp has arranged a center through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology as a party to the petition. It stated that the traceability regulations are unconstitutional and violate basic privacy rights.
The request stated that the traceability requirement forced the company to break the end-to-end encryption of its messaging service and the privacy principles behind it, and violated the basic rights of privacy and freedom of speech of hundreds of millions of citizens. WhatsApp communicates privately and securely.
It said WhatsApp enables government officials, law enforcement agencies, journalists, members of ethnic or religious groups, scholars, teachers, students, etc. to exercise their rights to freedom of speech and expression without fear of retaliation.
WhatsApp also allows doctors and patients to discuss confidential health information in complete privacy, enables clients to confide in their lawyers while ensuring that their communications are protected, and allows financial and government agencies to believe that they can listen to them without anyone else. They communicate safely while talking, it said.
It is impossible to predict which message will be the subject of such tracking commands. Therefore, at the request of the government, the petitioner will be forced to establish the ability to identify the first initiator of every message sent on the Indian platform. The petition claims that this breaks the end-to-end encryption and the privacy principles behind it, and violates the user’s basic right to privacy and freedom of speech when it is not allowed.
It claimed that Rule 4(2) violated the basic right of privacy and failed to meet the three-part test set by the Supreme Court in the KS Puttaswamy decision, namely, legality, necessity, and proportionality.
It also stated that the rule violates the basic rights of freedom of speech and expression because it chills even legitimate speech. Citizens will not speak freely because their private communications will be tracked and used to target them, which is different from end-to-end. encryption.
Rule 4(2) stipulates that important social media intermediaries that mainly provide information services should be able to identify the first initiator of information on their computer resources in accordance with the requirements of judicial or government orders.
According to data cited by the government, India has 530 million WhatsApp users, 448 million YouTube users, 410 million Facebook users, 210 million Instagram users, and 17.75 million account holders on the Weibo platform Twitter.
The new rules were introduced to make social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Instagram, which have surged in usage in India in the past few years, more accountable for the content hosted on their platforms.
Social media companies must delete posts describing nudity or distorted photos within 24 hours of receiving the complaint.
It is worth noting that these rules require important social media intermediaries-mainly providing information services-to be able to identify the “first initiator” of information that undermines India’s sovereignty, national security, or public order.
This could have a significant impact on players such as Twitter and WhatsApp.