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WhatsApp Vs Centre: How Can ‘Traceability’ Endanger User Privacy?

How can ‘traceability’ impact WhatsApp users? What would be at stake if WhatsApp loses this lawsuit? Tune in!

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2 min read

On a day the Centre's new IT rules for digital media platforms was supposed to come to effect, WhatsApp took the Centre to the Delhi High Court saying that its new rules would compel the messaging platform to violate the end-to-end encryption protection that it has set for its users.

The new IT rules or the intermediary rules have been effective from 26 May onwards for social media platforms, which have more than 50 lakh users such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.

Two of the rules that the government has mandated for social media platforms is firstly the appointment of grievance officers as a part of a grievance redressal mechanism and secondly, to enable ‘traceability’.

Traceability is basically the government asking social media platforms to trace the origin of a particular piece of information and it's this mandate that WhatsApp is opposing.

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The petition that was filed by the company on 25 May – which was the deadline to comply with the new rules, invoked the historic 2017 Supreme Court verdict on the right to privacy to argue that the Centre's traceability requirement is unconstitutional and against the fundamental right to privacy as upheld in the Puttaswamy judgment.

Furthering that argument, WhatsApp even asked the high court to declare the said provision as a violation of privacy rights and block any potential cases of criminal liability against its employees over non-compliance.

But how exactly can ‘traceability’ impact WhatsApp users? What would be at stake if WhatsApp loses this lawsuit? For this episode, we got in touch with Apar Gupta, Lawyer and Executive Director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, and Mishi Choudhary, Lawyer and the Legal Director and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center. Tune in to The Big Story!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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