WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court against India’s new and stricter IT Rules that require instant messaging platforms to aid in identifying the ‘originator’ of messages.
The petition challenging the constitutional validity of the rules, which come into force on May 26, was filed on May 25.
“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,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that the messaging platform had consistently joined civil society and experts around the world in opposing requirements that would violate the privacy of its 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,” the spokesperson said.
‘The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’ were notified on February 25, giving social media platforms three months to comply. The rules state that intermediary providing messaging services will “enable the identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource” following a judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or an order passed under section 69 by the Competent Authority as per the Information Technology Act.
The rules state that an order will be passed only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material, punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
In cases where other less intrusive means are effective in identifying the originator of the information, no order will be passed.
“…in complying with an order for identification of the first originator, no significant social media intermediary shall be required to disclose the contents of any electronic message, any other information related to the first originator, or any information related to its other users,” the rules state.
“WhatsApp has done what every company must do if they care about end-to-end encryption and privacy. The IT rules notified by the government are unconstitutional. In the garb of addressing misinformation and regulating technology companies, GoI has been exceeding the powers granted through subordinate legislation and using it for political purposes as is evident from the recent Twitter fracas. This is exactly the reason why the Free and Open Source Software community challenged these rules in the Kerala High Court,” Mishi Choudhary, founder, Software Freedom Law Centre, India, said.
The Union government and WhatsApp have been at loggerheads over tracing the origin of fake/unlawful messages for over two years now. The messaging platform has consistently refused to comply with the government’s demand, saying that the move will undermine the privacy of WhatsApp users.
DC de-notified 12 Micro Containment Zones
Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar, Ashok Sharma said that 12 micro containment zones have been de-notified after extensive testing and zero COVID positive reports. He said 16 other micro-containment zones would be de-notified as and when the administration is fully satisfied about the safety in these areas.
Briefing the media about the Covid situation, he complemented the PRIs, Health education department, Education Department, Police Department, Rural Development Department and Social welfare Department for their extensive efforts in combating the pandemic.
Giving details, the DC informed that during the 2nd wave 1475 cases were reported in the District, out of which 1260 have recovered and 201 are still active, which is the lowest number since March, 2021. Among them 13 are admitted in District Hospital, 33 are in CCCs and rest are in home isolation and are being provided medical treatment.
He briefed that the recovery rate has continuously picked up, while the positivity rate dropped to 2.70% this week.
He further said that the district has inoculated 72.85% persons of 45 yr old and above till date, while door to door Vaccination drive is being conducted in the district to cover the rest.
Concerned tehsildars and BDOs under the supervision of SDMs are closely monitoring the progress on vaccination and the Covid Mitigation measures in the district, he informed.
While giving details about the Covid care, he informed that sufficient oxygen cylinders and concentrators are available in the District, while 882 Covid Kits containing essential medicines and oximeter have been distributed among the COVID positive patients till date.
He appealed the masses to stick to the COVID19 appropriate behaviour and follow the SOPs in letter and spirit to break the chain completely.
Further, the DC Kishtwar informed that the people can approach the district administration on the Twitter account of DC Kishtwar: @dckishtwar and the official Twitter account of DIC Kishtwar: @Dkishtwar.
Army rescues 41 civilians stranded due to heavy rains on Mughal Road
The Indian Army rescued 41 civilians stranded at blocked Mughal Road in Jammu following heavy rains, informed Defence PRO, Jammu on Saturday.
During a 3-hour-long night rescue operation on Friday, the stranded civilians were evacuated.
According to Defence PRO, the Mughal Road was blocked due to heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and lightning.
“On 11 June, in swift 3 hrs long night rescue ops, #IndianArmy rescued 41 civilians, stranded at blocked #MughalRoad due to heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and lightning at between Ratta Chamb and Mansar Mod in #Poonch. All help and support extend to them,” Defence PRO had said in a tweet.
The rescued passengers were provided food and heating arrangements and no injuries were reported in the operation.
“The civilians were highly appreciative of the swift action of the Army which saved them from vagaries of weather and harsh terrain,” Army said.
India reports lowest one-day rise in COVID-19 cases after 71 days
India on Sunday (June 13, 2021) reported its lowest one-day rise in the COVID-19 cases after 71 days. The country recorded 80,834 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the figures by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed.
India’s active caseload has now declined to 10,26,159, while the weekly positivity rate has dropped to 4.74% and the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25%.
There were also 3,303 coronavirus-related deaths between Saturday and Sunday morning.
So far, there have been 2.94 crore cases and 3.70 lakh fatalities across the country.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also informed that 1,32,062 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. India now has registered 2.80 crore recoveries and the recovery rate has improved to 95.26%.
Meanwhile, more than 25.31 crore coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered across the country.
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