Encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp seem to have petrified the Indian Government. As per a report on Indiatimes, the officials at the Indian Home Ministry have expressed their wrath on WhatsApp at a recent meeting in New Delhi. Needless to say, the meeting was about “anti-national” elements who use social media apps for illegal activities.
The meeting also addressed the recent arrests of JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) terrorists, the group that was responsible for the Nagrota Army camp attack in Jammu and Kashmir. Apparently, the terrorists divulged that all the communication was carried out by WhatsApp call by their handler.
The authorities have now expressed a desire to monitor the social media apps including messaging apps like WhatsApp. They believe that by doing so terrorists will be forced to use the platforms to create unrest and kindle communal violence. Other authorities including Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, security agencies and the Police agreed that WhatsApp is the “preferred medium of communication for anti-national forces.”
It is no secret that security agencies have been striving hard to monitor apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. However, the end-to-end encryption is seemingly playing spoilsport and making things difficult for the authorities. The Indian authorities also took cues from Middle Eastern countries who have already banned WhatsApp voice and video calling.
Meanwhile, companies like WhatsApp are custodians of user data. Safeguarding user data, even from the authorities is the part and parcel of the companies ethics. We have already seen bouts of state-sponsored attacks in countries like Russia, China, and North Korea. Once a backdoor is built there is no guarantee that the authorities will not use the same to safeguard their interests. The irony is that WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook is already in enough trouble for not keeping user data secure. It’s important to note that the Indian Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a PIL requesting the ban of WhatsApp back in 2016, so any efforts to get WhatsApp (or any other secure messaging app) banned in India won’t be an easy task.