WhatsApp, a social media app, filed a lawsuit against the Indian Government on the grounds that the new IT rules infringed the right to privacy enshrined under Article 21A of the Constitution. WhatsApp moved the Court to these rules that require social media intermediaries to trace users’ encrypted messages in a test for right to privacy in India. Moreover, it is argued to be dangerous to the freedom of speech and expression owing to its stifling nature.
Rule 4(2) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) mandates social media platforms to inform the concerned authorities, if questioned, regarding the originator of a message or a post on their platform. However, these are subject to the facts and circumstances of a case, and in serious criminal offences only. However, the loosely worded terms are vague, and could be interpreted broadly.
In response, the Government has called WhatsApp’s act a clear case of defiance of the country’s laws, and said that the rules and regulations were introduced to curb the menace of fake news. Others have opined by relying on the Puttaswamy judgement and have brought up the exceptions clause in the judgement, which states that the right to privacy is subject to legality, necessity, and proportionality. The government has also questioned WhatsApp’s commitment to ensure privacy of the users, since it shares all information with its parent company- Facebook, for marketing and advertising purposes. In response to WhatsApp’s allegation that innocent people might be arrested, the Government has reassured that only the source or the originators of the text or post shall be traced, and not the subsequent senders.
Further, disclosure of information relating to offences relating to sovereignty, integrity and security of India, public order incitement to an offence relating to rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for not less than five years, was imperative in the eyes of the Government. The government, to support its introduction of the said rules, has also highlighted Google, another tech giant’s conformation with the said rules.
Essentially, it is a conflict between the Government’s aim of security and well being of the people, and protection of the right to privacy.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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