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SC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Ban On 'ZOOM' Software Application

Radhika Roy
22 May 2020 7:13 AM GMT
SC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Ban On

A Three Judge bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde on Friday issued notice on a PIL seeking a ban on usage of the software application "Zoom" by the Indian public until formulation of an appropriate legislation.

The petition primarily rests on the lack of internet safety of the app and states that application is not safe and does not have end-to-end encryption and is violating the information technology act 2000 and Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.

The plea contends that Zoom software application poses a threat to privacy of the individuals using it and also breaches cyber security and avers that the CEO of ZoomVideo Communications has already "apologised publicly and accepted the app to be faulty in terms of providing a secure environment digitally which is against the norms of cyber security".

Apropos this, the petitioner Harsh Chugh has filed the instant plea, stating that being a homemaker and remote worker (takes tuition classes through Zoom), he is concerned about cases of hacking and cyber breaches, which are being incessantly reported. Therefore, the petition has also impleaded other stakeholders responsible, i.e. the Central Government through The Ministry of Electronics & IT and Cyber & Information Security Division of MHA.

"the reliefs which are sought in the present petition are urgent in view of the penetration of offending software increasing with each day and as the concern raised in the present petition have Pan India ramifications" - Excerpt from the Plea

Furthermore, the petitioner has averred that "the Zoom App practices data hoarding and cyber hoarding", issues of unauthorised access such as "zoombombing" where a stranger to the meeting joins the Zoom meeting and causes disorder by saying offensive things/ pornographic images have also come to light.

Issues of Zoom's false advertising of "end to end encryption" & its incessant capitalisation on the ongoing pandemic have been emphasised by the petitioner and also highlights the Cyber Coordination Committee's public advisory regarding the safety concerns surrounding the software/app.

"That it is important to realise how zoom consistently violates its duty to implement and maintain reasonable security practices, and misleads consumers about the security benefits of the Product. Zoom has targeted consumers, businesses, and schools..... rather than lending a hand to people in need, Zoom violates the privacy of its millions of users by misusing and exploiting their personal information, and falsely, deceptively, and misleadingly advertising fictitious security benefits of the program" - Excerpt(s) from Plea

In this backdrop, the plea further states the need for a legislation to be put in place in order to effectuate a standard regulation to safeguard the rights of citizens as has been brought to light by various leaders across the world. Keeping this averment in mind, the plea lays down the discourse pertaining to the "patterns of security failures and privacy infringements" across the world.

The petition has been drawn by Advocates Divye Chugh & Nimish Chib & has been filed by Advocate Wajeeh Shafiq.

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