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Do the new IT rules violate the right to privacy?

In May 2021, Whatsapp moved to the Delhi High Court against the Indian government. The government’s new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 ask messaging platforms to establish traceability, and Whatsapp says that this would be a breach of the right to privacy. The Puttaswamy judgment of 2017 for the first time declared privacy as a fundamental right of Indian citizens. The Whatsapp case would be the first real world test of that judgment.

This episode is the second in our two-part series on traceability. In our previous episode titled, Centre’s rule to trace Whatsapp texts threatens privacy, we explained how technologically it may not be possible to have traceability without removing end-to-end encryption. In this episode, we will take a look at the legal parameters of this case. Our reporter Suryatapa Mukherjee spoke with lawyers Gunjan Chawla and Prasanna S.

Gunjan is the Programme Manager of the Technology and National Security team at the Centre for Communication Governance. Prasanna is a coder turned lawyer who has represented petitioners in the cases challenging the use of Aadhar before the Supreme Court.

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Additional reading:

Right to privacy not fundamental right: Centre to Supreme Court
India | Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism
Journalist, activist jailed under NSA for 45 days over cow posts. In Manipur, it’s not unusual
The FBI’s Anom Stunt Rattles the Encryption Debate

Do the new IT rules violate the right to privacy?

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