SC junks PIL on WhatsApp decoder key

New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking its direction to the government to seek a private key from WhatsApp and similar applications to decode and access their content in times of need.

A bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked petitioner Sudhir Yadav to approach the appropriate authorities.

Yadav — a Haryana-based Right to Information (RTI) activist — said he was not asking for a ban on WhatsApp and other similar applications but wanted the government to ask them to share their private key if and when required.

He said this was similar to what the government had insisted vis-a-vis on BlackBerry.

Yadav said that in the absences of the private key, it would take the government years to access a message.

The petitioner in his public interest litigation said that WhatsApp has from April started to enable its every message with 256-bit encryption that cannot be broken into.

“Even if WhatsApp was asked to break through an individual’s message to hand over the data to the government, it too will fail as it does not have the decryption keys,” Yadav said in his petition.

Other messaging platforms such as Hike, Secure Chat, Viber and a few others are also using high encryption and constitute a threat to national security, Yadav contended.



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