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Ban Whatsapp If Non-Compliance With New IT Rules Continues: Plea Filed Before Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
24 Jun 2021 2:28 AM GMT
Ban Whatsapp If Non-Compliance With New IT Rules Continues: Plea Filed Before Kerala High Court
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A PIL has been filed in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to the Central Government to ban the operation of WhatsApp if it continues to deviate from the orders of the legal authorities in the country. Petitioner Omanakuttan K G, a software engineer, moved the Court citing national and public interest, alleging that WhatsApp did not function in conformity to...

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A PIL has been filed in the Kerala High Court on Tuesday seeking directions to the Central Government to ban the operation of WhatsApp if it continues to deviate from the orders of the legal authorities in the country.

Petitioner Omanakuttan K G, a software engineer, moved the Court citing national and public interest, alleging that WhatsApp did not function in conformity to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethic Code) Rules, 2021.

The petition also claimed that there was a wide scope of manipulation at the user end and that it was not viable to trace the origin of a message being circulated on the application.

It has been stated that WhatsApp refused to comply with the IT Rules citing that they violated the privacy of its users before the Dellhi High Court. However, the updated Privacy Policy openly mentions that the application will store, access and use several personal data of its users, including the battery remaining on their devices, which are grave violations of right to privacy.

Condemning this policy, the petitioner claimed that the app lacks security and has been exposed to several bugs and errors over time. A layman can manipulate any message or media received by him and circulate it further to cause unrest in the society. This proves the unreliability of the data circulated on the application, the PIL read. .

The petition pointed out that such instances provide opportunity for anti-national elements to send messages and retrieve information. Due to its end-to-end encryption system which is a deviation from the IT Rules, it was also impossible to trace the origin of these messages, letting these criminals walk away scot-free.

Adv. M Vivek, Arun Ashok Iyyani, and Neena James appeared as the Counsel for petitioner, contending that WhatsApp violated fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. It was also alleged that the software posed a threat to the national interest and security.

The petition also brought about another interesting fact. It is contended that WhatsApp had implemented a separate privacy policy in Europe in compliance with their laws. Yet, the app refuses to comply with the laws in India, which is a glaring incongruity.

Important questions raised in the petition are as follows:

  • Whether a corporate entity and its software application can be allowed to function in the country despite causing potential threat to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the nation and its citizens?
  • Whether WhatsApp can be allowed to function despite lack of security and wide scope for misuse to the extent that it violates fundamental rights?
  • Whether a corporate entity can be allowed to bypass laws in the country on false claims

The petitioner submitted in the petition that the Centre had banned similar mobile applications for acting against national interests on a previous occasion. If WhatsApp failed to revise its technology or to cooperate with the government, it was urged that a similar step be taken by the Centre.

The PIL was admitted on Wednesday before the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly and posted for hearing on June 28

Title: Omanakuttan K.G v. Union of India



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