New Delhi is inching closer to recommend regulations that would require social media companies and instant messaging app providers operating in the country to help law enforcement agencies trace the messages back to their originator, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
India will submit the suggested change to the local intermediary liability rules to the nations apex court later this month. The suggested change, the conditions of which may be altered before it is finalized, currently says that law enforcement agencies will have to produce a court order before exercising such request, sources who have been briefed on the matter said.
But regardless, asking companies to comply with such requirement would be devastating for international social media companies, a New Delhi-based policy advocate said. WhatsApp executives have insisted in the past that they would have to compromise end-to-end encryption of every user to meet such a demand — a move they are willing to fight over.
The government did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
Scores of companies, and security experts have urged New Delhi in recent months to be transparent about the changes it planned to make to the local intermediary liability guidelines.
The Indian government proposed (PDF) a series of changes to its intermediary liability rules in late December 2018 that, if enforced, would require millions of services operated by anyone from small and medium businesses to large corporate giants such as Facebook and Google to make significant changes.
Among the proposed rules the government said that intermediaries which the government defines as those services that facilitate communication between two or more users and have five million or more users in India will have to be able to trace the originator of questionable content to avoid assuming full liability for their users’ actions.
Technology giants have so far enjoyed what is known as safe harbor laws. The laws, currently applicable in the U.S. under the Communications Decency Act and India under its 2000 Information Technology Act, say that tech platforms wont be held liable for the things their users share on the platform.
More to follow…