WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned chat platform, will soon have to disclose the contents of private and encrypted chat to the law enforcement agencies in the UK. It is just the beginning and all of the US-based social media platforms will have to share the encrypted messages with the UK police. The move could open the Pandora's Box and the governments all over the world could force WhatsApp and other social media sites to disclose chat contents, thereby undermining the privacy of billions of users who use WhatsApp, Facebook etc.
US and UK are all set to sign an accord by next month which will compel social media companies to disclose the contents of the users' chat to support investigations into suspected individuals who have committed serious offences including terrorism and paedophilia, said the Bloomberg report. Meanwhile, both countries have agreed to not investigate each other's citizens as part of the deal.
Facebook has retaliated against the government's move to give themselves a backdoor entry into the private chat platform. In a statement, Facebook said, "We oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of our users everywhere. Government policies like the Cloud Act allow companies to provide available information when we receive valid legal requests and do not require companies to build back doors."
Earlier, the Australian government had passed legislation that allowed the authorities in the country to spy on messages from apps like WhatsApp. Singapore had also passed an anti-fake news law (Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill) that allows the government to police the messaging apps and private chat groups.
The US and UK accord could have serious implications for India's privacy laws too. The Indian government has long been asking WhatsApp to implement message traceability. WhatsApp has been asked by the Indian government to digitally fingerprint every message sent on its messaging platform. The move will allow WhatsApp to keep a track of the sent and receive messages without breaking the encryption. The Indian government has often asked WhatsApp to find the originator of the message, information of the people who have read and forwarded the message and the number of people to whom the message was sent.
Edited By: Udit Verma