Should WhatsApp be banned in India?
Many messaging apps came into picture right after the good old emails were introduced. From Google’s Hangout to Blackberry’s BBM, they all made an impact at their own time. However, the real catch came with WhatsApp. Everyone was suddenly so hooked to it that even Facebook messenger saw huge fall in its usage. A cross-platform chit-chat application that helps you stay connected all the time, WhatsApp has become an addiction of its own kind.
When WhatsApp announced end-to-end encryption, there were already mixed responses from people all over the country. In the wake of the iPhone incident in US where Apple was fighting FBI for its sealed privacy, this came as a blow and anticipations started flying high. It should have been predicted right then that soon our courts will be sitting to discuss if WhatsApp is to be banned in the country.
A Haryana based right-to-information (RTI) activist has filed petition citing that the end-to-end encryption gives way for communication to terrorists and that the app needs to be banned in order to prevent conspiracy that would not be able to break through or intercept.Yes:1. Hard to procure data:
A suspect would remain a suspect only if he used WhatsApp to communicate. Nothing that goes in or comes out of the app would be traceable now. Even if the authorities have evidences of the criminal conspiracy of a person, they wouldn’t be able to know his call and messaging records. Even WhatsApp wouldn’t be able to break through an individual’s data since they would not have the decryption keys. It is like easy access for communication to all the evil minds working against the peace of the country.2. The free call facility:
WhatsApp’s not-so-old upgrading brought in free calling from one WhatsApp to the other. It became a huge hit instantly. It doesn’t cost you anything but unlimited data. Now that it is securely encrypted too, it could easily be used by criminal and terrorists to communicate with each other, knowing that there would be no tracing or tracking them. The police would not be able to find out the other people they interacted with. It is like a setback, sending advanced supervision to the era when call tracing were not a concept.3. Call tracing has helped:
Call tracing and data procurement from social networks have helped the investigation departments make positive progress in solving thousands of cases which would have remained a mystery. Police and CBI have cracked the evil minded strategies of many criminals even before they could make way for it. It was only possible because procuring call and message data was easier for them. Many gangs and human traffickers have been caught owing to this technique. Very soon it will be a matter of past if WhatsApp isn’t done away with.4. Cybercrime:
The cybercrime investigation departments have worked hard all these years to help people stay free of cyber threats. Cases of blackmailing over obscene clips and picture were numerous but the culprit was caught and punished all because it was accessible for the cybercrime department to look through and find the loopholes that pointed towards the identity of the perpetrator. With impossible to decrypt data, we could bid goodbye to the good work done by cybercrime cells.5. What’s privacy and entertainment with security?
So, people are agitated because they want privacy and do not want anyone sneaking into their personal space, keeping track of messages and calls but are they worried about security? Will it be worth sacrificing security for privacy and entertainment on social media platforms? The cyber departments are not going to misuse the data that you send out but think of what hackers could do with it.6. Illegal already:
According to Indian constitution, WhatsApp has become illegal already. Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph act grants the government the power to order the interception of messages which is now impossible for WhatsApp. There are rules and procedures to be followed before tapping a person’s phone calls of messages which ensures that your privacy is not leaked into the world. License Agreement for Provision of Internet Services mandates that private parties in India cannot use encryption higher than 40-bits without procuring a permit from the government. WhatsApp really is in trouble with its 255-bit encryption.No:1. Terrorism is not because of WhatsApp:
There are various other means of communication, if not WhatsApp, if criminals want to get their messages across. Terrorism did exist before WhatsApp and will exist even if WhatsApp is banned. Instead of addressing this global threat with the other nations to know how they are handling encryption, someone in India simply called for a ban. We just love the idea of shunning anything that seems to disagree with our opinion.2. Formulating laws could help:
What we need are clearly and wisely formulated laws on encryption which is currently lacking. Calling for a ban is extreme since it would not cut to the root of the problem. Problem is that people do have presumptions regarding the prying eyes of the government officials. With the parties full of goons, any of their information could be used for their personal benefits. People were overwhelmed with the WhatsApp end-to-end encryption because it ensured them of privacy and protection from anyone trying to sneak into their personal space.3. How many will you ban?
Viber, Secure Chat, Hike, Skype and so many apps that people are addicted to. They all offer encryption that the government would want to shun with their 40-bits wand. These are all the most effective means of communication for people staying far from friends and families. They bridge the gap more effectively than any other social media app. It has solved the biggest problem and that is cutting cost on calls.
WhatsApp, owned by social media giant Facebook, should comply with the 40-bit regulation. Banning would be completely unfair but so would be allowing such a difficult encryption. Perhaps, new rules could be formulated instead of a complete ban – a rule that could find a stable balance between upholding the privacy of people and national security.
SC is set to hear the plea of the RTI activist and that would decide if WhatsApp will be shunned or regulated. Either ways, people would not be happy – they love WhatsApp for the new end-to-end encryption.