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Meta policy chief Nick Clegg gets WhatsApp traceability ultimatum from Indian Government

Last month, while on a visit to India, Meta policy chief Nick Clegg was informed that, regardless of whether the courts upheld a legal requirement for identifying the message’s initial sender, the government will impose traceability for security and law enforcement purposes on WhatsApp.

According to the government, Meta can submit language on the traceability clause that the company can accept. The draught Digital India Act may be released before Christmas, so it must be completed fast, according to a person familiar with the situation.

“Meta can go and file any number of cases in the courts,” he continued, “but the government will find one way or another to press the necessity of traceability.” Clegg was informed in no uncertain terms of this.

One of the social media giant’s arguments when WhatsApp and Meta brought a lawsuit against the traceability clause in the IT Rules Amendments last year was that the government can’t enforce such a legislation by reporting changes to Rules.

Due to the fact that rules can be directly declared by the government without requiring new legislation to be approved by Parliament, experts classify rules as subordinate legislation. While the Rules can still be discussed in the Parliament, unlike Acts, they do not require legislative approval.

A second high-ranking official informed Clegg in a separate meeting that the traceability clause was crucial for dealing with law enforcement issues like terrorism cases.

“The official claimed that the authorities would not be able to find a terrorist handler who was sitting in Pakistan and communicating with an agent in India. Traceability won’t assist much in this circumstance, according to Meta officials, because you can’t identify the original sender if someone shares a screenshot of a communication to someone else. a person with expertise said.

The idea of creating a multi-party technical committee on traceability was brought up during one of Clegg’s talks with senior government officials. The committee might include members from MeitY, law enforcement organisations, Meta, and IIT professors to analyse and debate the difficulties in enabling message tracing on the platform without compromising end-to-end encryption. “We are extremely grateful for the chance to talk about how Meta and the government can collaborate to accomplish India’s Techade goals. We would not be able to offer further information because these were private discussions, a Meta representative said in answer to our questions.

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