The Indian government wants to INTERCEPT encrypted WhatsApp chats! Voice and video calls too!

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The Indian government is considering a law that could allow it to intercept encrypted messages and calls in India. Learn all about it.

The Indian government is proposing a new law that could annoy data privacy lovers! You know how chats and calls on apps like WhatsApp and Signal are encrypted, and you also need to know how they are not accessible to anyone, not even the app developer and the government. The Indian government now wants to change that and has come up with a new law for the same, allowing it to access encrypted communications. If the law is passed, it could have serious consequences on the privacy and data security aspects.

The new law has been proposed to enforce a legal framework on the interception of OTT apps and services, which include WhatsApp and Signal. The new telecommunications bill, which is under consideration, could have serious implications on the aspect of data privacy, given that encryption has been introduced to ensure the best levels of privacy during a chat or a call.

Could WhatsApp chats be read by the government?

Currently awaiting public comment, the law defines “telecommunications services means, service of any description (including broadcasting services, electronic mail, voice mail, voice, video and data communication services, audiotex, videotex services, fixed and mobile services, internet and broadband satellite communication services, including internet communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communication services, communication services machine-to-machine, over-the-top (OTT) communication services that are made available to users through telecommunications.

Any service can be added to the definition and give the government access to all encrypted chats, voice calls, video calls, etc. Under Article 24 of the draft, the government or one of its representatives can demand access “in the event of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety”.

It remains to be seen if this project will be approved and if so, how will the tech companies react? Encryption as a technology prevents a third party from spying between two communicating parties. If WhatsApp and Signal were to comply with these rules, they would have to get rid of encrypted messages. Or, they could simply close shop in India, like many VPN operators.

Earlier this year, several VPN companies left India after they were required by law to keep a record of their user data and share it with authorities. Several big names shut down their servers in India in protest and offered virtual servers to local customers.

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