WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is legal in India, but not for long


TOK TOPICS : Technology, Ethics, Human Sciences

Case description : WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption in India guaranteeing total user privacy. This means that all user calls, texts, video, images and other files sent can only be viewed by the intended recipient, and no one, not even WhatsApp itself can access this data. Unlike the Telecom and Internet service providers Apps like WhatsApp, Skype and Viber are, ‘Over-The-Top Services’, or OTTs and are not regulated directly but are expected to comply with directions to intercept, monitor and decrypt information issued by the respective governments of the countries.

TOK LINK : With end-to-end encryption , WhatsApp will not be able to comply with government requests for data, since WhatsApp itself will not have the decryption key. In doing so, WhatsApp is repeating how Apple prevented government access to data in the Apple vs FBI battle. The End-to-end encryption has high, unbreachable level of security and privacy available to its users but also provides a safe haven to terrorists and illegal activities. Can we extend individual user’s privacy at the cost of larger public safety and interest? A allowance for interception for lawful purposes requires to be provided for.


Sample KQs:

  1. Can complete Privacy be associated with Digital Living?
  2. How does larger public interest and government control moderate individual rights?