“No fundamental right absolute”: Union Govt reacts to WhatsApp

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The Union Government on Wednesday stated that it respects the ‘Right to Privacy’ and the need to trace the origin of the flagged messages following the new IT rules for prevention and investigation of “very serious offences” which is associated to the sovereignty of the country or public order.

The IT Ministry in a statement termed WhatsApp’s challenge to the intermediary guidelines in the last moment as an unfortunate attempt to stop the norms from being implemented.

The UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada need the social media firms to give the allowance for the legal interception, it said, adding, “What India is asking for is significantly much less than what some of the other countries have demanded.”

The official statement added, “Therefore, WhatsApp’s attempt to portray the Intermediary Guidelines of India as contrary to the right to privacy is misguided.”

The statement further said that the Centre acknowledges ‘Right to Privacy’ as a fundamental right and is dedicated to assuring the citizens of the same.

The statement further revealed IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has stated that the government “is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security.”

Prasad added, “none of the measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact.”

“The Government respects the Right of Privacy and has no intention to violate it when WhatsApp is required to disclose the origin of a particular message.”

The statement added, “Such requirements are only in case when the message is required for prevention, investigation or punishment of very serious offences related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material.”

The Centre reacted after a lawsuit was filed by WhatsApp in the Delhi High Court against the new digital guidelines issued by the Centre giving the argument that the need of the company to give access to encrypted messages will violate the privacy protections.

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