Last week, amidst all the current talk of encryption, WhatsApp “flipped the switch” making all WhatsApp communication encrypted, and effectively making the app illegal in India.
WhatsApp is extremely popular in India. So popular that one would think WhatsApp, or at least it’s parent entity Facebook, would have looked at the legalities of turning on encryption in India before actually doing it.
India’s rule for encryption states that companies use no more than 40-bit encryption without explicit permission from the government. WhatsApp utilizes a 256-bit encryption key. In order for WhatsApp to gain that explicit permission, they would have to hand the key over to the government, however, a standard key is not being used. Each conversation is using a different key, which WhatsApp does not have possession of. Following the new trend started by Apple, WhatsApp has introduced a method in which they can throw their hands in the air and say they can’t help when that help is required by law.
What will India do with WhatsApp? We don’t know. Nothing has been stated publicly as of yet. However, just like in the US and the UK, there is already government discussion about encryption taking place, with new laws on the horizon.
Once again, a company that has nothing but a dark past in privacy and security is leading the charge in the fight about that privacy and security. We as consumers must take a real look at these companies that are forcing the fight. Do you want Apple, who is primarily concerned about profit, and who uses the argument as a marketing ploy leading the fight for privacy? Do you want WhatsApp, which as an arm of Facebook is already trading for profit what most of us would consider our private information leading the fight?
I don’t want that.
I want to know that my private conversations aren’t being scraped for data so that Google and Facebook can better advertise to me. I want to know that those pushing the privacy argument are doing it for reasons other than their own profit. I want to know that those that are fighting for consumer’s privacy are also concerned about the safety of the community in which the consumer lives. I want to know that those that are involved in the privacy discussion actually understand the difference between right and wrong, and with current developments, I am getting nothing that I want.