New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Wednesday said that the Indian government respects the right of privacy of WhatsApp and has no intention to violate them when the Facebook-owned messaging app is asked to disclose the origin of a particular message. 

The government said that the requirement of tracing origin of flagged messages under the new IT rules is for the prevention and investigation of "very serious offences" related to the sovereignty of India or public order. Citing Rule 4(2), the government said that while privacy is a fundamental right in India, it is not absolute and is subject to reasonable restrictions. 

"WhatsApp’s attempt to portray Intermediary Guidelines of India as contrary to Right to privacy is misguided. Contrarily in India, privacy is a fundamental right subject to reasonable restrictions. Rule 4(2) (to trace the first originator) is an example of such a restriction", the MeitY said. 

"Such requirements are only in case when the message is required for prevention, investigation or punishment of very serious offences related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material," the statement from MeitY stated.

"The UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada require social media firms to allow for the legal interception. What India is asking for is significantly much less than what some of the other countries have demanded. Therefore, WhatsApp's attempt to portray the Intermediary Guidelines of India as contrary to the right to privacy is misguided".

The statement further added that IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has stated that the government is committed to ensuring the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security. Prasad also stated that "none of the measures proposed by India will impact the normal functioning of WhatsApp in any manner whatsoever and for the common users, there will be no impact."

The Centre's response comes after WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court challenging the government's new digital rules, arguing that the requirement for the company to provide access to encrypted messages will break privacy protections. The petition, filed on Tuesday evening, seeks to declare the rule requiring the message service provider to identify the first originator of any message flagged as a violation of privacy rights provided by the constitution.

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan