WhatsApp is in danger of getting banned in India if an RTI activist based in Haryana has his way. According to Sudhir Yadav’s petition to the Supreme Court, the chat app poses a significant risk to the country’s security.
Yadav’s petition could have far-reaching consequences even for apps like Viber and Hike. As per his argument, WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption could allow terrorists and criminals to communicate freely without any fear of interception. Indian intelligence agencies would be unable to access these chats and take actions to prevent an attack.
This isn’t the first time WhatsApp’s encryption has caused controversy. Brazil had banned the application and arrested one its officials for failing to hand over chat records related to a drug investigation. The country is now planning to pass a bill which prevents the application from ever getting banned again.
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Fears of India banning WhatsApp came to the fore immediately after the app announced full end-to-end encryption for all messages, calls, videos and documents, preventing any entity from spying on a user’s conversation. Yadav’s petition asserts that the 256-bit encryption is so effective, not even a supercomputer would be able to crack it.
Going by a previous report, Yadav’s views are in line with how security agencies in India feel about WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. The app is apparently being used extensively in Jammu and Kashmir to spread rumors which lead to violent clashes.
Yadav told IANS that he had attempted to express his concerns to TRAI and the Ministry of Communications and IT but received no response. He then decided to file a public interest litigation (PIL) which the Supreme Court will hear on June 29.