While seeking the compliance report from top global social media giants regarding implementation of the new IT norms, Union minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said that “the Government of India is committed to ensuring the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security.”
He added that none of the measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact.
The Union ministry in a statement released later said that the Government of India has no intention to violate the privacy of individuals and asking WhatsApp to disclose the origin of a particular message will only arise in the case of “Prevention, Investigation or Punishment” of very serious offences, the government said.
This comes after Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday went to court against the new IT norms that come into effect from Wednesday. The Rules require firms like Whatsapp to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service.
The case was filed in the Delhi High Court on 25 May. A spokesperson for the instant messaging service said “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.”
“In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us,” the company said.
Meanwhile, non-compliance with the new IT rules would result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.
Google and Facebook on Tuesday said that they are ready to comply with the new Rules.
India has fixed five million registered users as the threshold for defining a significant social media intermediary. It has directed the appointment of a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and nodal contact person and to publish the details of these executives on their website, along with a physical contact address. The rules also mandate traceability of the originator of messages, along with a provision for voluntary verification as a means to establish user identity.