Apps and platforms in India are supposedly being promoted by the Indian government. This could stifle the end of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in India. A new measure, proposed by the central administration, might adversely impact apps such as WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, and others.
The Indian government has proposed a measure bringing under a legal framework the interception of communication services. According to the latest draft of the Telecommunications Act 2022, published late on Wednesday:
Telecommunication services are defined as a service of any description. These include broadcasting services, electronic mail, voice mail, voice, video, and data communication services, audiotex services, videotex services, fixed and mobile services, internet and broadband services.
The law also applies to internet-based communication services, in-flight and maritime connectivity services, interpersonal communication services, machine-to-machine communication services, and over-the-top (OTT) communication services).
If the measure becomes law, the modern-day telecom industry may need to take some very drastic measures. Encrypted messages have become one of the most important features of several messaging platforms. In order to comply, communication platforms and apps may have to compromise privacy.
Section 24, which allows the government to have broad-ranging powers. "On the surface of any public emergency or in the interest of public safety," the central or state governments, or any authorized officer, may issue a notice to intercept and disclose any message or class of messages sent or received by any telecommunication services.
If enacted, it might result in the end of E2EE, at least for Indians. This is because the provisions of the proposed measure essentially permits the Indian government to bypass encryption and intercept messages, including calls on social media such as WhatsApp, Signal, and other services. If these platforms wont comply, the government may even prohibit them from entering the country.
Recently, the Indian government adopted VPN (virtual private network) services. However, action against non-complying platforms has been postponed as of today.