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Encryption Can't Be More Important Than Law And Order, Says MeitY Secretary

The statement comes in light of Government of India’s tussle with social media messaging platform WhatsApp where the government wants the messaging platform to trace the origin of messages which may create a law-and-order situation.

Photo Credit : Youtube/iesaonline

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Ajay Prakash Sawhney, MeitY Secretary

Encryption cannot be more important than law and order, said Secretary MeitY, Ajay Prakash Sawhney on Tuesday while speaking at an industry forum.

“Encryption is a welcome thing most of the times, rather I would say 99.9 per cent of the times but 0.01 per cent of the time when it is necessary to come to the assistance of enforcement agencies to bring perpetrators to justice then we expect that encryption should not be held as an excuse to deny that,” he said.

The statement comes in light of Government of India’s tussle with social media messaging platform WhatsApp where the government wants the messaging platform to trace the origin of messages which may create a law-and-order situation. WhatsApp on the other hand says that the ability to trace messages would mean breaking end-to-end encryption of its messages, undermining privacy of individuals.

Sawhney also explained the need of tracing the origin of messages by giving an example of a courier company. He said that suppose a courier company is delivering a parcel from one place to the other and upon delivery of the parcel it is found that it has some explosives or horrendous chemicals, then the courier company is not at fault. “We would then expect the courier company to be responsible enough and say that we can help in identifying the person who came in and gave the parcel and help the law enforcement agencies get to the bottom of it. That’s what encryption is for us,” he added.

Sawhney reiterated that on a day-to-day basis while having a private conversation he would like complete encryption but if some heinous crime takes place, then we cannot say that encryption is more important than law and order.

Facebook owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has taken the government to court challenging the new Intermediary Guidelines but the government has stayed adamant on the traceability issue by arguing that it has nothing do to with end-to-end encryption and is of absolute necessity for national security and law and order in the country.


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