'Will make N Korea blush’: Cong’s acerbic attack on Centre over new IT rules
- Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi’s harshly-worded criticism of the rules comes hours after WhatsApp confirmed that it had approached the Delhi high court against the new IT rules
The Centre’s new information technology rules that forced Facebook Inc’s messaging platform WhatsApp to petition the Delhi high court are aimed at asphyxiating democracy and curbing dissent, the Congress said on Wednesday.
The new rules are "dire, drastic and draconian", Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said at an online media briefing on Wednesday as he sought to scale up the offensive against the rules that were notified three months earlier in February but came into effect at midnight.
“The issuance of the new intermediary guidelines reflect the BJP government's syndrome, which is a ‘Big Daddy syndrome’. It is a control freak syndrome…. You would make the North Korean model of control of the media blush,” Singhvi said.
The Congress’ harshly-worded criticism of the rules comes hours after WhatsApp confirmed that it had approached the Delhi high court against provisions in the rules that require it to ensure that it can trace the origin of messages.
“Requiring messaging apps to “trace” chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,” the WhatsApp spokesperson said
WhatsApp has asked the Delhi high court to scrap the traceability provision as it is “unconstitutional”, “illegal” and constitutes a “dangerous invasion of privacy”.
In a blog, WhatsApp said some governments were seeking to force technology companies to find out who sent a particular message on private messaging services. It said providing traceability for messages would break the end-to-end encryption and would severely undermine the privacy of billions of people who communicate digitally.
“Then, what is the point of end-to-end encryption… It is like a camera in your drawing room or bedroom,” said Singhvi.
The Congress leader, also a senior lawyer, said under the new rules, social media and messaging platforms that do not comply with these provisions will not get the protection extended to intermediaries. This means these companies will be liable for messages that are transmitted via their platforms.
The rules were designed to curb free speech, particularly on social media which the government has not been able to control so far, Singhvi said.