The Delhi High Court Friday asked the Centre to reply to pleas by Facebook and WhatsApp challenging the new IT rules for social media intermediaries requiring the messaging app to “trace” chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of information.
The pleas have challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice and asked the Centre through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to file reply to the petition as well as application to stay the implementation of the Rules.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on October 22.
The counsel for Centre said the main advocate was not available and sought an adjournment which was opposed by senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for WhatsApp and Facebook respectively.
The Facebook owned company, WhatsApp, in its plea said the requirement of intermediaries enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits "at risk".
WhatsApp has urged the high court to declare Rule 4(2) of the Intermediary Rules as unconstitutional, ultra vires to the IT Act and illegal and sought that no criminal liability be imposed on it for any alleged non-compliance with Rule 4(2) which requires to enable the identification of the first originator of information.