As India declared a new set of social media rules, the news shocked the tech world with numerous reports of WhatsApp filing a legal case against the Indian government.
The complaint refers to privacy concerns and unconstitutional violations by the newly imposed decree.
As Reuters reported, WhatsApp is requesting that the Delhi High Court revokes the controversial rule that violates the constitution and privacy rights for millions of Indian residents.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular mobile apps in India, and was downloaded over 100 million times in the last year alone!
What are the newly imposed social media guidelines?
The set of rules was announced back in February only to come into force on May 26.
According to the sources that are closely involved in the legal case between WhatsApp and India, one of the guidelines is that a social media platform needs to provide information on users who are exchanging illegal information.
The issue that the Facebook subsidiary has with this is that their messenger uses end-to-end encryption and implementing such a directive would be against their Terms of Service.
Not only that, but WhatsApp suggested that the new policy is a direct violation of privacy rights, guaranteed by many international treaties, which were also signed by India.
WhatsApp’s appeal cites a 2017 ruling by the Supreme Court of India upholding privacy in a case known as the Puttaswamy ruling.
The court then found that privacy must be protected, except in cases where the Indian legal regulations are against it by the law of necessity.
A government official, meanwhile, said WhatsApp could find a way to find the sender of the disinformation, and that the company was not being asked to stop encryption.
What it means for WhatsApp in India
WhatsApp obviously took a huge risk by filing a legal complaint against the Indian government.
In case that the High Court doesn’t revoke the controversial guideline, the company will be left unprotected from criminal charges in case they violate the effective regulations.
Doing business by the Intermediary Guidelines and the Digital Media Ethics Code is a must for any company that wants to acquire immunity against legal proceedings.
Out of all the social media platforms in India, WhatsApp is the most popular. Compared to its parent company, Facebook, WhatsApp has 110 million users more (a total of 400 million).
In addition to that, Twitter doesn’t stand a chance against this messaging platform with only 17 million active users in India.
Thus, WhatsApp losing the case would be a huge blow for Indian residents, their privacy, and the company as well.
It isn’t a secret that employees working for global and domestic social networks are commonly visited or investigated by the BJP, the leading Indian political party, for allowing “media manipulation” and “fake news”.
One of the recent controversies referred to Twitter and Facebook allowing posts about the Indian variant of the coronavirus.
Finally, there were numerous reports of employees who were threatened by jail time if they don’t take down the “misleading posts”.