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Who signed the international statement on E2E encrypted platforms on India’s behalf?

Photo of a vintage computer code breaker

There is no clarity on which ministry or Indian government representative signed the international statement on end-to-end encryption (E2E) and public safety — that demanded companies to build backdoors to E2E encrypted platforms — on behalf of India. In response to an Right To Information request, filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation on the matter, the Ministry of External Affairs said that it “could neither trace any records under the jurisdiction of this CPIO [Central Public Information Officer] nor could identify any public authority which may possess related information …”.

After the statement was released on October 11, the UK Home Office had told MediaNama, “Japan and India both signed the statement on behalf of their Government in the round rather than any one Ministry or individual”. At the time, a spokesperson for the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety had directed us to the UK Home Office and said that they “led and coordinated the statement.” We did not get any responses from the Australian Home Ministry, the US Department of Justice and the New Zealand Intelligence Community or its Ministry of Justice.

The statement identifies signatories from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance by name, but India and Japan are only listed as countries, with no representatives or ministries identified. Signatories from the Five Eyes are — US Attorney General William Barr, British Home Secretary Priti Patel, Australian Home Minister Peter Dutton, Canadian Minister of Public Safety William (Bill) Blair and Kiwi Minister of Justice Andrew Little. Little is also the “Minister Responsible” for the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

MediaNama has reached out to the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology multiple times since the statement was released but has received no response. The Indian High Commission in the UK, too, has been unresponsive.

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