No intention of forceful decryption on OTTs: IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday said that it does not intend to de-crypt the messaging carried through OTT platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Signal, even though it proposes a licensing regime for the companies, which will need to follow a mandate to get KYC details of users.
“There is no question of forcing decryption… There is no such provision here,” telecom and IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. The government is hoping that the proposed draft is enacted into a law over next six to 10 months, the minister said.
Asked about the provisions to intercept the messaging, he said that there has been no specific change on the issue, and legal provisions as enshrined by the Supreme Court would be followed here. “As per a judgement of the Supreme Court, there is a clear mechanism around this matter, which also includes checks and balances. That mechanism has been there for many years, and there has been no change when it comes to this aspect.”
WhatsApp had approached the Delhi high court over the question of encryption and on the mandate – in the IT Rules that came into effect in 2021 – that it has to “trace” the origins of those sending inflammatory messages on its platform.
On the matter of seeking KYC documents for everyone, including those accessing communication services through OTT apps, Vaishnaw said this has been suggested to ensure that there is cyber security and there is clarity on who is user.
“A lot of thought and technical understanding and discussions have gone into it. This is what has happened across the world… If someone calls from say WhatsApp, isn’t that a right of the user getting the call to know who has called so that he/she can decide whether to accept?”

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