The laws of the country and the Indian government must define and protect the privacy of citizens, TV information technology veteran Mohandas Pai said on Wednesday as he accused major social networks such as WhatsApp of “double standards”.
“The court must decide, not WhatsApp,” he said, commenting on WhatsApp filing a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court challenging new digital government rules that require the company to provide access to encrypted messages would violate privacy protections.
The application, filed Tuesday evening, seeks to promulgate a law requiring the message provider to identify the original author of any message flagged as a ‘violation’ of the privacy rights provided by the constitution.
“This is going to go to the Supreme Court,” reported the former Bengaluru chief financial officer with the head of IT Infosys Ltd, a well-known supporter of the BJP.
The big problem is: if the private forum can decide such matters by one-sided contract or by regulations, according to him.
“These forums are now a public service as many people use them. Our information is not secure. They are subject to US law and their security agencies have full access to our information. So where is the privacy?” he asks.
“They (WhatsApp) have a clear double standard. Our government and our law must define and protect our privacy, not these forums,” Pai told PTI.
The new Information Technology which is the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code in the year 2021 was announced by the government on February 25 and requires major social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to comply with the policy by May 25.
Legislation requires that such large platforms follow a more diligent approach, which includes the appointment of a compliance chief executive officer, a liaison officer and a citizen complaints officer.
WhatsApp said the provision of compliance was unconstitutional and violated the fundamental right to privacy.
Confirming the application to the high court on Tuesday, a WhatsApp spokesman said “requiring messaging apps to ‘track’ conversations is tantamount to asking us to keep a fingerprint of all WhatsApp messages, which will end end encryption and basically undermine people’s right to privacy.”