Looks like the days of end-to-end encryption are coming to an end in India.The Indian government is going to expand the scope of the telecom bill in its new proposal to include over-the-top (OTT) apps like WhatsApp and Signal.This bill gives great powers to the government. It also includes the ability to prevent the exchange of messages between people in the interest of national and public security.
Under the Indian Telecom Bill 2022, telecommunication services means any type of communication services. These include internet and broadband services, internet based communication services, in flight and sea connectivity services, machine to machine communication services, OTT (over-the-top) communication services.This new definition puts services like WhatsApp and Signal under the ambit of governance. The government has the power to add more services.
Section 24 of the draft bill gives wide powers to the government. Under section 24(2) of the Bill, in the event of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety, the Central or State Governments or any authorized officer may direct that any message or class of messages shall be transmitted or transmitted by any telecommunications services. not be obtained.The great thing would be that such an order would not be intercepted or disclosed to the designated officer.
The Bill states that the government or authorized officer may issue an order to stop the transmission of messages if they are satisfied that it is necessary or expedient to do so.Messages can be intercepted in circumstances such as India’s sovereignty, integrity, or security, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or incitement to an offence.Such order may be issued in writing.
In instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Signal, their texts are encrypted, meaning they cannot be read or heard by anyone except the sender and receiver.The provision of the draft bill will allow the Center to bypass this encryption, intercept messages and make calls on these platforms.Companies will have to comply with all similar government orders. Failure to do so will result in action being taken against them.