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WhatsApp Approaches Delhi High Court; Says New Media Rules Can Violate User Privacy

 

Topics Covered: Cybersecurity related issues.

WhatsApp Approaches Delhi High Court; Says New Media Rules Can Violate User Privacy:


Context:

WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court against India’s new and stricter IT Rules that require instant messaging platforms to aid in identifying the ‘originator’ of messages.

  • The petition challenged the constitutional validity of the rules, which came into force on May 26.

What’s the contentious clause in new rules?

The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 state that intermediary providing messaging services will “enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource” following a judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or an order passed under section 69 by the Competent Authority as per the Information Technology Act.

 Applicability of this clause:

The rules state that an order will be passed only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.

What are the arguments put forth by Whatsapp?

  1. Undermines people’s right to privacy: Rules violate the fundamental right to privacy guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
  2. Against the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the K.S. Puttaswamy case: The court had held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution.
  3. The right to anonymity: More recently, the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to privacy included the right to anonymity.
  4. Breaking end-to-end encryption: Enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India results in significant harm, including “breaking end-to-end encryption and chilling lawful speech”.
  5. Violate the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression: Privacy is inextricably intertwined with the right to freedom of speech and expression because it protects people from retaliation for expressing unpopular, but lawful, views.

Note:

We have Covered about the New IT Rules previously on: https://www.insightsonindia.com/2021/05/26/the-information-technology-guidelines-for-intermediaries-and-digital-media-ethics-code-rules-2021/.

 

Insta Curious:

  • Do you know about ‘splinternet’ ? It’s an interesting concept related to the above post. Read it here (3 min read)

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About the new IT rules.
  2. Who are intermediaries as per the new rules.
  3. When did the rules come into force?
  4. What did the Supreme Court rule in the Puttaswamy case?
  5. Right to Anonymity is covered under which Right under the constitution?

Mains Link:

Privacy is inextricably intertwined with the right to freedom of speech and expression because it protects people from retaliation for expressing unpopular, but lawful, views. Comment.

Sources: the Hindu.