Government proposes law to intercept encrypted messages on WhatsApp, Signal | Latest India News
The government has proposed legislation to provide a legal framework for the interception of over-the-top (OTT) communications services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, which are encrypted, according to the new telecommunications bill posted online on Wednesday evening.
According to the definitions of the bill, telecommunications services means services of any kind (including broadcasting services, electronic mail, voice mail, voice, video and data communication services, audiotex services, videotex services, fixed and mobile services, Internet and broadband services, satellite communication services.
This also includes Internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communication services, machine-to-machine communication services, over-the-top (OTT) communication services that are available to users by telecommunication.
The government may add any other service that the central government may notify as a telecommunications service. He sought public comment on the draft.
The interception will also cover voice and video calls made through these apps, as the government defines messages as including “the stream of data or intelligence or information intended for telecommunications”.
The bill, if implemented in its current form, will have considerable ramification for the industry based on the principle of privacy and security of encrypted messages.
Under Article 24 of the draft, the central and state government, or any agent specially authorized for that purpose by the central or state government may “in case of public emergency or in the interest of the public safety” – if satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so, in the interests of the sovereignty, integrity or security of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or the prevention of incitement to an offence, for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order — order that any message or category of messages, to or from any person or category of persons received by any telecommunications service… shall not be transmitted, or intercepted, detained or disclosed to the officer named in this order.
The clause allows the government to be able to intercept messages, calls on platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal, which are encrypted, meaning they are not stored and remain private between users, in accordance with company policy.