According to WhatsApp, the new rules "would break end-to-end encryption" and would fundamentally undermine people's "right to privacy."
On February 25, 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) announced a new set of guidelines for social media companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, the Press Information Bureau reported. According to the report, the government gave social media platforms three months to comply with the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, with a deadline of May 25, 2021.
Under the guidelines, the platforms need to have a three-tier self-regulatory structure. According to PIB, the social media giants are asked to increase due diligence and data sharing, such as information about the first originator with enforcement agencies. The 'significant social media intermediaries' have been asked to appoint a compliance officer, who would be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and rules.
According to a report by Reuters, on May 25, 2021, WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against the Central government in the Delhi High Court. The Facebook-owned messaging app termed the government's new regulations as "unconstitutional" and sought to block the rules. In this case, the company has asked the court to declare that one of the latest IT rules violates privacy rights according to the Indian constitution since it requires social media companies to identify the "first originator of information" when demanded.
While commenting on the lawsuit, WhatsApp told Reuters that "Requiring messaging apps to trace chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp." According to the company, this "would break end-to-end encryption" and would fundamentally undermine people's "right to privacy."