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Indian govt bid to WhatsApp decryption gets push as UK, US, Australia rally support


Indian government stand to seek for Facebook-owned WhatsApp message traceability has further got strengthened after three countries UK, US and Australia wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking the company to not proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services.

The letter signed by US attorney general William Barr, UK home secretary Priti Patel, acting US home secretary Kevin McAleenan, and Australia’s minister for home affairs Peter Dutton, asked Facebook to first ensuring that there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens.

Among the many steps it suggested to the social media giant, the letter noted that Facebook must act against illegal content effectively with no reduction to safety, and to enable law enforcement to obtain lawful access to content in a readable and usable format, as per Buzzfeed report.

The development is significant for the Indian government, which has been one of the first countries to raise the decryption issue after a series of violence and mob lynching incidents.

According to govt’s official, the social networking firm would find it hard to brush off the issue of decryption now.

Now, we have global support as far as law enforcement is concerned, you have to do the decryption, said ET report quoting concerned ministry.

The Indian government has been for the past couple of years pushing WhatsApp on the issue of traceability of a message. The matter related to WhatsApp linking to Aadhaar and traceability is being discussed in Indian courts.

However, WhatsApp, which describes itself as space for private conversation, has maintained that it would not break encryption endangering the privacy of its users.

If every message that a user sent was kept with a user’s phone number, then it would not be a platform for private communication. The end-to-end encryption promotes citizens’ fundamental rights of speech and expression without fear of surveillance, WhatsApp had said. The decryption may put citizens and professionals at risk, it reasons.

Meanwhile, with the rise in violence cases, the messaging app said that it can, at best, share metadata.

Will that be enough? Or the countries, who are witnessing a rise in violence, crime and anti-social activities through messaging and social platforms, be silent?

There would be a rise in demand for decryption in the coming years.

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