After WhatsApp turned on end-to-end encryption (E2E) to secure the privacy of their one billion active users, debates over user’s privacy versus the country’s security immediately sprouted. WhatsApp’s decision on the 256-bit encryption came after the FBI-Apple battle over seeking messages from the locked iPhone of a claimed terrorist. Though encrypting messages may be a great option where hackers and the government cannot snoop on the user’s private lives, this causes a huge issue when the police have to crack into messages that are passed on using this channel to protect its citizens.
Following the enabling of WhatsApp encryption, many activists around the world claimed it as a potential threat to National security. In India, an encryption of up to 40-bit is considered legal and services that are implementing this type of encryption have to register with the government. Those who are using higher encryption are presently in the gray area, and so is the case with WhatsApp. Hence, indirectly, WhatsApp is presently illegal in India, but there are no guidelines as yet in the country which can ban them for now.
Earlier last month, an RTI activist from Gurgaon, Sudhir Yadav, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a complete ban on the messaging platform WhatsApp. The RTI petition was filed under the registration number DOTEL/R/2016/50413. Sudhir wants a ban on WhatsApp because they have decided to encrypt all messages that get exchanged on the platform. He also said that any terrorist can safely chat on WhatsApp and make plans to harm the country and the Indian intelligence agencies would not be able to tap them to take necessary actions.