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If WhatsApp can comply with European laws, why not with India’s IT Rules: PIL in Kerala HC

A petition was filed in Kerala High Court on Tuesday seeking a ban on WhatsApp if it continues to disregard the rules of the country and not cooperate with the government. Petitioner Omanakuttan KG, a software professional, alleged 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. The PIL was admitted on Wednesday before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly and is scheduled for the next hearing on Monday (28 June). Where does Whatsapp stand in compliance with the rules? The IT Rules, 2021 went into effect on May 25 and, among other things, it requires platforms like WhatsApp to: appoint a nodal contact person, chief compliance officer, and resident grievance officer whose contact details are prominently displayed on the website enable tracing the originator of a message (traceability mandate) While WhatsApp was not compliant with these rules on the day they went into effect, it eventually appointed people to the three required managerial roles and shared the details of the grievance officer on its website. However, it is yet to comply with the traceability mandate against which it has filed a lawsuit in Delhi High Court. WhatsApp argues that the traceability mandate will require the platform to break end-to-end encryption for all its users, which will violate the users’ right to privacy and freedom of speech and expression and is beyond the scope of the parent Act. In addition…

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