WhatsApp has recently turned to an end-to-end encryption to safeguard the privacy of its users. Soon after this update in the month of April, many serious arguments took place over the user’s privacy against the nation’s security. So, many activists round the world have raised their voice against this feature, as it is a threat to the country’s security. WhatsApp came up with this encryption decision after the FBI combat against the Apple Inc., for getting messages out of an alleged terrorist’s iPhone.
An encryption of up to 40-bit is considered to be legal in India. If any services are practicing such type of encryption, they have to get registered with the government of India. So, all the services using higher encryption in the country are blacklisted. WhatsApp being one among them is currently called to be illegal. But as of now there are no clear instructions that can ban the service.
This PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed last month by Sudhir Yadav aged 27, a Haryana- based RTI (right-to-information) activist. The petition was filed under the registration number DOTEL/R/2016/50413. Sudhir has filed the petition in the Supreme Court with the intent to get complete ban on WhatsApp. He claims that this encryption will affect the safety of the country as any terrorist can misuse this feature. He added that this higher encryption makes it impossible for Indian intelligence agencies to access the criminal’s conversations to take proper actions.
“Even if WhatsApp was asked to break through an individual’s message to hand over the data to the government, it too would fail as it does not have the decryption keys either.” – mentioned Sudhir Yadav in the petition.
The petition also said that in order to decrypt any message on WhatsApp one would need a whopping 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 564, 039, 457, 584, 007, 913, 129, 639, 935 key combinations have to be used which is highly not possible. Yadav has also claimed that decrypting a single 256-bit encrypted Whatsapp message would take hundreds of years even for a super computer.
Yadav informed IANS, a private Indian news agency that he had written letters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Ministry of Communications and IT before filing the petition, but received no reply.
The petition even stated that besides WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, Secure Chat, Hike and Signal also use high encryption which might cause threat to the nation. So, petition says that all these messaging platforms should be banned. The Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice of India will hear the public interest litigation (PIL) petition on June 29.