India Considering IT Laws That Could Force Social Media Platforms to Break Encryption

By Nitish Singh / December 24, 2018

Last week, the government of India revealed that it authorized 10 central agencies to intercept data from any computer in the country. Just days after creating a lot of controversy amongst citizens, opposition political parties and global free speech organizations, we learn that the government may make yet another amendment that could break encryption on social media platforms and other websites.

The proposed set of laws by the Government of India could make it mandatory for social media platforms to comply with decryption requests and offer access to private user data. The amendments are still up for discussion, and the changes have not been confirmed yet.

According to the draft of the Draft Intermediaries Guideline Rules under Section 79 of IT Act, India: “The Intermediary shall deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls, for proactively identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or content.

If the changes go into effect and online platforms comply with the changes, it will allow the government to trace the source of all internet data by disabling encryption. The recent changes have been heavily criticized, but government officials defended it citing recent mob lynching incidents due to fake news as well as terrorist activity.

The draft rules were discussed by officials from Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Amazon, Yahoo, Twitter, ShareChat, SEBI, and The Internet Service Providers Association of India along with India’s Cyber Law division and an official from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The government has denied claims that such changes attack “freedom of speech.”  While the officials state that the central agencies in India do not want to break the encryption, but simply want the source of illegal content it is currently not possible. However, WhatsApp is reported to be working on a technology that will allow them to trace information without breaking encryption.

What do you think about the proposed laws by the government of India? Let us know in the comments below. Also, make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks!

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