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WhatsApp to Madras HC: Impossible to track the sender of a message because of encryption

WhatsApp told the Madras High Court on June 6 that its end-to-end encryption software made it impossible to track down the original sender of a message, including forwarded messages, Bar & Bench reported. WhatsApp made this submission during a case that is examining ways in which cybercrime might be curbed with the assistance of social media companies. The bench, comprising Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, had asked if was possible to trace the original sender of a message that seeks to spread misinformation. WhatsApp, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter were impleaded in response to a PIL that sought to get Aadhaar linked to email IDs and other online user accounts to help detect online crimes. MediaNama has reached out to WhatsApp for comment and will update this once we get a response from the company. How did the state of Tamil Nadu argue? Advocate General Vijay Narayan cited a provision from the Draft Information Technology [Intermediaries guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018 that obligates intermediaries to assist government agencies within 72 hours in the investigation of a cybercrime. The guidelines further prohibit the uploading of a new class of content, that is, any content that threatens “public health or safety”. They also require the intermediaries (platforms) to trace the originator of the prohibited content. As these rules are still at the drafting stage, the AG argued that the intermediaries must be directed to strictly cooperate with law enforcement. How did WhatsApp respond? Citing WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption technology, Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal…

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