WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court on Thursday that it could suspend its operations in India if it is asked to crack end-to-end encryption on its platform, according to a report. The Meta-owned instant messaging platform made the statement during the hearing of a petition filed by it and Facebook challenging Rule 4(2) of the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Code of Conduct) Rules, 2021. More specifically, this rule states that a social media intermediary helps to identify the first author of a message when a competent authority orders it to do so.

According to a report of the Bar and Bench, advocate Tejas Karia, who represented WhatsApp, told a bench of sitting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, “As a platform, we are saying that if we are told to break encryption, then WhatsApp goes.” Karia also emphasized that people use the platform because they feel reassured by its focus on privacy and security and because messages are end-to-end encrypted.

The lawyer referred to Rule 4(2), which states: “A significant social media intermediary providing services primarily of a messaging nature must allow the identification of the first author of the information on its computer resource as may be required by court order passed by a competent court or an order made under section 69 of the Act by the competent authority.’

Kariya also claimed that this rule would force WhatsApp to store millions of messages on its server for several years, as the platform does not know which messages may be asked to be decrypted. This effort may also strain the platform’s cloud servers and make the servers more expensive to operate and maintain. Kariya emphasized that WhatsApp was not asked to share this information anywhere in the world.

Meanwhile, Kirtiman Singh, the Standing Counsel to the Central Government (CGSC) disputed the position that there is a need to have some mechanism on social media to track certain messages. The court is of the position that a balance must be struck between the two sides. The case was adjourned until August 14.

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