According to various tech publications, India has been forcing Facebook to break WhatsApp encryption, which protects the end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) chat from leaking out. Breaking the encryption would allow Indian law enforcement agencies to track WhatsApp messages. It will be able to identify and pull data on any user who has posted something or send any message on WhatsApp.
Why Does India Want To Track WhatsApp Messages?
The tension between India and WhatsApp regarding end-to-end encryption policy has been going on for at least three years. It all started after the sadistic WhatsApp mob killing incidents of 2019. Several kinds of fake news about child abduction went viral through WhatsApp chats. The videos and photos appeared real to a good part of the Indian population. They formed a mob of extremists to slay innocent civilians (mostly Muslims) across the country.
In another case, some doctored images and videos about a rampant group of kidnappers went viral through WhatsApp. However, an Indian policewoman diffused the situation before something like 2019’s lynching ever happened.
That horrible event shook India to the core but the government pursued the possibility of identifying the origin of the WhatsApp message. It recommended various regulations on Social Networks that would force them to help Indian agencies track WhatsApp messages and stop the crime from happening.
It is not a practical solution because the backdoor that India is asking from Facebook, would also allow hackers to exercise their will on user’s messages. It is only due to end-to-end encryption which is why hackers are not able to track Whatsapp messages.
So What Does India Really Want?
The Indian government ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been facing massive criticism for being the reason for the world’s largest protest. It has been more than 100 days since the farmers rejected new agriculture laws by BJP to avoid corporatized farming.
Instead of helping the poor farmers, the government allegedly propagated false claims against the poor farmers. However, farmers have gained some international support as well, which might have led India to track Whatsapp messages of protesting farmers.
BJP’s Hindutva regime has also threatened to put employees of big social media groups behind bars. Reportedly, it wanted the tech giants to release data on farmers. The social networks did not comply so the regime channeled its frustration like this.
According to reports, India is going to submit the request to track WhatsApp messages later this month. A brief synopsis of the paperwork suggests that Indian law enforcement agencies will need a court order before acting on such requests.
The Only Thing That Can Protect Anonymity
Regardless of the conditions, a particular requirement to break E2EE for the sake of privacy violation would have devastating impacts on the international social media industry, which proudly claims to protect its user’s privacy.
WhatsApp executives have also mentioned again and again that what India wants, it cannot be done without compromising the E2EE of every user. Due to this, the messaging app has claimed to resist the Indian government, which wants to legally violate everybody’s privacy.
Without the E2EE, a person would be in immediate danger because nobody can assure how someone can react to a particular message. It is the only thing that keeps the person anonymous while he/she is exercising freedom of online speech. Otherwise, critiques, dissidents, or controversy theorists would have been facing the same fate as most of the live protestants face today.