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Kerala HC dismisses petition seeking ban on WhatsApp: Report

The petitioner had alleged that without being able to trace the origin of WhatsApp messages, law enforcement agencies could not identify any criminal or antinational. 

The Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed a petition seeking a ban on WhatsApp stating that it was premature, The Economic Times reported. Petitioner Omanakuttan KG, a software professional, had argued that WhatsApp has not yet conformed to the traceability mandate of the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021, posing a potential threat to national interest and national security. “We are not inclined to entertain any of the prayers sought for, we are dismissing the writ petition,” the court said.

In dismissing the petition, a division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said that it “should be the job of investigating agencies and courts to decide whether messages from WhatsApp were manipulated by users to not be used as evidence,” the report stated. This was in response to the petitioner alleging that the messages and media shared on the platform can be manipulated by a layman to cause unrest in society and since traceability is not enabled, any criminal or antinational using the app cannot be identified by law enforcement agencies.

The court further added that the Indian government has already asked WhatsApp to comply with the new rules and that it will not entertain a plea raising the same demand again, Times of India reported. While WhatsApp has appointed people to the three managerial roles (resident grievance officer, nodal contact person, chief compliance officer) required by the new IT rules, it is yet to comply with the traceability mandate against which it has filed a lawsuit in Delhi High Court. The petitioner, however, countered that WhatsApp’s new privacy policy already violates privacy because the app collects and shares a lot of information.

In the petition, Omanakuttan has also argued that WhatsApp complies with European laws and has implemented a separate privacy policy in Europe in compliance with the laws there. “If the app is amenable to laws of the European region and can change its functionality in accordance with the laws of the European region; why is it hesitant to abide by the laws of our country?”

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