WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook must follow law of the land: Cyber security expert


New Delhi: Cyber security firm Netrika on Wednesday came down heavily against WhatsApp for challenging the government of India’s new IT regulations in the Delhi high court.

Sanjay Kaushik, Managing Director of Netrika consultancy said, “WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook will have to follow law of the land. It is India and the law of the land must be followed.

Speaking to ANI, Kaushik said, “People have to understand that all these companies, whether it is Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp, are US companies. In the US, you can still have those privacy systems. The US is very stringent on privacy. They cannot force a company to divulge anybody’s information. We have seen that in a case Apple denied in the court of law saying that it would not give the right to open a logged phone in a terror attack case.”

Kaushik said in India, the government is asking the platforms to comply with certain laws. There was a gestation period and prior notice. “Enough time was given to them. Now they are saying that they are not going to follow the regulations and the laws of the Government of India. I think that is not going to happen wherever you are…whichever country you are…every company has to follow the law of the land,” he added.

He further questioned WhatsApp why it has not gone to court earlier and waited for the last day before the implementation.

WhatsApp on Wednesday moved the Delhi High Court against the Centre’s recently imposed IT Rules that would require the messaging services to “trace” the origin of particular messages sent on the service.

WhatsApp through its statement said, “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.” On February 25, the Centre framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, which will come into effect from May 26.

The new guidelines issued by the government of India mandated a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. Under the new rules, social media platforms will have to have a grievance redressal mechanism. They will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and disposal in 15 days.

The government had said that if there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.

As per the guidelines, first, the social media platforms will have to have a chief compliance officer residing in India responsible for ensuring compliance with the act and the rules.

Second is a nodal contact person who should reside in India for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Also, social media platforms have to appoint a resident grievance officer who shall perform the grievance redressal mechanism as indicated. They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal. (ANI)