Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Policy proposes storage of all messages on WhatsApp, Google Chat, yahoo messenger etc for 90 days

Every message that you send--be it through WhatsApp, SMS, Email or any such service--must be mandatorily stored in plain text format for 90 days and made available on demand to security agencies under a draft New Encryption Policy that has triggered privacy concerns.

Legal action that could also include imprisonment has been proposed in the draft policy unveiled by the government for failure to store and produce on demand the encrypted messages sent from any mobile device or computer. The policy also wants everyone to hand over their encryption keys to the Government.

The draft proposes that users of encrypted messaging service on demand should reproduce same text, transacted during a communication, in plain format before law enforcement agencies and failing which the government can take legal action as per the laws of the country.

The proposed policy, issued by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, would apply to everyone including government departments, academic institutions, citizens and for all kind of communications -- be it official or personal.

Generally, all the modern messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, Line, Google Chat, Yahoo messenger etc, come with high level of encryption and many a time security agencies find it hard to intercept these messages.

"All information shall be stored by the concerned B/C entity for 90 days from the date of transaction and made available to Law Enforcement Agencies as and when demanded in line with the provisions of the laws of the country," the draft said.

The draft has defined 'B category' as all statutory organizations, executive bodies, business and commercial establishments, including all Public Sector Undertakings, Academic institutions.

The 'C category' as per the draft are all citizens including personnel of government and business performing non-official or personal functions.