The Indian government is all set to pass certain rules that would make the fight for privacy even more challenging than it already is. The rules will allow the Indian government to force the tech companies to cooperate with them without the need of a warrant or a court order. These new rules will force social media giants to do the investigating on their own to identify a suspect, a shift from the current approach as now tech companies are simply told to supply information about a suspect that the officials identify.
If the rules are implemented, social media giants will have to preserve user data records for at least 180 days. In addition to this, they will be forced to have a physical presence in the country and appoint “grievance officers” to address the queries of government agencies. They will also be required to trace any specific post to its origin within 72 hours of a request. Now tracing a post to its origin will mean breaking the end-to-end encryption of the concerned platform, putting the privacy of all other users at risk. These rules would be applicable to any app with more than 5 million users, like Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, and YouTube among others. According to Saritha Rai from Bloomberg, ‘The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is expected to publish the new rules later this month without major changes, according to a government official familiar with the matter.’
Given how this rule applies only India, it won’t catch much attention of the international media. But it is very much possible that other countries might get encouraged seeing what the Indian government is doing and would try to apply similar rules to their country. This would endanger the privacy of people of their respective countries, thereby escalating this to a global problem, that will be having its roots in India. As we struggle to prevent the misuse of our data from the prying eyes of officials, it seems that the fight for privacy and anonymity is about to get even harder.