New Delhi: Just a day after WhatsApp moved the Delhi High Court against the central government’s new IT Rules, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Communication and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said Centre fully recognises and respects the right of privacy, while adding that ordinary WhatsApp users have no reason to fear about the new rules.
Taking to the microblogging site Koo, the Union Minister posted that the objective of the new IT Rules is to track down who started the message that resulted in the commissioning of specific crimes.
“Government fully recognises and respects the right of privacy. Ordinary users of WhatsApp have nothing to fear about the new Rules. Its entire objective is to find out who started the message that led to commissioning of specific crimes mentioned in the Rules,” he said.
Ravi Shankar Prasad also added that the obligation to reveal the first originator of an objectionable message already in circulation relates to offences which are related to “sovereignty, integrity and security of India, public order, rape, and child sexual abuse” and that also when other less intrusive actions are not effective.
“The new Rules require the social media companies to set up an India based grievance redressal officer, compliance officer and the nodal officer so that millions of users of social media who have a grievance get a forum for its redressal,” Prasad noted.
“The new Rules are only designed to prevent abuse and misuse of social media. Government welcomes criticism including the right to ask questions. The Rules only empower the ordinary users of social media when they become victims of abuse and misuse,” he added.
On Wednesday, WhatsApp moved the Delhi High Court against the Centre’s recently imposed new IT Rules that would require the messaging service to ‘trace’ the origin of particular messages sent on the service.
“Requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy”, WhatsApp said in its statement yesterday.
“We have consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of our users. In the meantime, we will also continue to engage with the Government of India on practical solutions aimed at keeping people safe, including responding to valid legal requests for the information available to us,” WhatsApp spokesperson had said.