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Riku Tanaka
in
Legal
January 23 16:20

Indian government seeks to indetify users and outlaw two-factor verification

“No country is demanding such a broad level of traceability as envisaged by the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines,” said Software Freedom and Law Centre, a New Delhi-based digital advocacy organization.
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The Indian government has been slowly creeping towards eliminating the anonymity behind enrypted messaging applications and social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and others. The first step came in late 2018, when New Delhi put forth a proposal for alterations to intermediary liability rules which would herald in major changes in the way communications and social media services are run. If these changes become law, they will affect anyone from small businesses to behemoth corporations such as Facebook and Google.

The rules that were proposed include liability guidelines for communication intermediary companies. These companies are defined by the Indian regulatory agencies as services or applications that provide means of communication between two or more users and have a userbase larger than five million. If the guidelines become law, the intermediary companies will have to have the ability of tracing the origin of users’ content if those companies wish to be free from assuming liability for said content. This means that the companies would be held liable for content that promotes terrorism, hate speech, criminal activity and other criminal and otherwise questionable material.
These and others suggested alterations to the intermediary liability laws will be submitted to the Supreme Court of India later this month. Although the proposed changes may be corrected or updated before they are finalized and passed into law, they currently state that the law enforcement agencies that ask for the origins of post or messages must obtain a court document prior to making the request, according to sources that are familiar with the matter.
Whether the changes will be implemented as is or have minor alterations regarding the policing agencies’ prerequisites for obtaining the information, the mere fact that organizations will be required to be able to trace the origin of encrypted messages will be disastrous for international social media companies as a whole.
The government did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening. A WhatsApp spokesperson declined to comment. Sources spoke under the condition of anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to media.
Software Freedom and Law Centre, a New Delhi-based digital advocacy organization, recommended last week that the government should consider removing the traceability requirement from the proposed changes to the law as it was “technically impossible to satisfy for many online intermediaries.”
“No country is demanding such a broad level of traceability as envisaged by the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines,” it added.