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WhatsApp is illegal, will soon banned in India : Government
WhatsApp could have accidentally
entered into troubled waters here in India by enabling its end-to-end
encryption for all. The new security feature by WhatsApp is not what is
required by the Indian telecom rules and WhatsApp could face a ban, if the
rules are not adhered to. But not yet.
In India, companies need to
follow the country’s rules and adhere to specific types of encryption, which
WhatsApp does not currently use. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption on its chat
service means that WhatsApp or anyone else won’t be able to crack open its
contents. Only the sender and the recipient are able to read the
encrypted data. WhatsApp uses a 256-bit key for encryption of all chat
messages, which is only known to the sender and the recipient.
Why is it not possible for
WhatsApp to help decrypt users’ messages? "No one can see inside that
message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even
us," WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton wrote on their blog.
However, as for the Indian rules,
online services are only permitted to use up to 40-bit encryption. If they need
to use higher encryption standards, they need to seek permission from the
government, and the way WhatsApp is setup, it seems a bit too difficult to
obtain the same. In order to get the required permissions and green flags from
the Indian Government, WhatsApp needs to submit the keys, which sadly, they too
actually don’t have.
Hence, indirectly, all those who
are currently using the updated WhatsApp app in India are actually using it
illegally, says the report.
However, according to the Indian
encryption rules, OTT services, such as WhatsApp, do not require encryption
standards like telecom operators do. Telecom service providers and internet
service providers in India require a license from the DoT to provide encrypted
services in India. These include internet telephony and chat services and a
usage of up to 40-bit encryptions, only after depositing the decryption keys to
the Telecom Authority. Since WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and such services are
(over-The-Top) OTT-based and not telecom operations, they are not yet regulated
in the country as they do not come under the encryption requirement laws.
The TRAI had released an OTT
consultation paper back in 2015,
but are yet to issue any such regulations in the matter. In the absence of such
regulations, OTT services with such encryptions are presently free to operate
legally in the country. However, things could change, citing lack of decryption
keys and possibility of illegal activity with terrorist groups and alike on
such OTT services.
In other countries, such as
France, Skype was made to register with a telecom service provider in order to
operate with the encryption standards it holds in place. Similarly, many other
countries, including China, Germany and a few others, have also put regulatory
systems in place. OTT services are well regulated in countries overseas.
Asheeta Regidi, an Indian cyber law specialist, stating, ‘WhatsApp, being an
intermediary, is expected to comply with directions to intercept, monitor and
decrypt information issued under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act,
2000. Complying with such a direction will now be impossible for WhatsApp in
view of its end-to-end encryption. Even before the introduction of this, since
WhatsApp is not a company based in India, it may have been able to refuse to
comply with such directions. In fact, compliance by such companies in regard to
data requests from the Indian government has been reported to be very low.’
The further reported that
countries like India are currently looking to pass new policies on the new
encryption standards. But it is presently unclear whether these new policies
will bring new requirements on WhatsApp.
The big question now is that,
will India allow WhatsApp to continue in India or will it enforce a new OTT
regulation which will put encrypted services like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and
others into the grey zone? courtesy : Deccanchronicle
Qihoo 360 buys Opera in $1.2 Billion Opera Software intends to accept a
$1.2 billion acquisition offer from a group of Chinese companies. The
Chinese consortium includes Internet security company Qihoo 360, Internet firm
Beijing Kunlun (which invested roughly$93 millioninto Grindr earlier in the year) and
investment group Golden Brick and Yonglian. According
to Opera, the $1.2 billion is a 56 percent premium over Opera's share price
during the last 30 trading days. Despiteclaiming350 million users, the company's
browser has struggled in the oversaturated Western market. China could be a
profitable arena for Opera, in part because Google's Chrome browserdoes not come preinstalled on Android
phones in China like it does elsewhere. In addition, doing business in China
without local partners is nigh impossible, but Opera could leverage the networks
of Kunlun and Qihoo 360 if the deal goes through.
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