WhatsApp Threatens To Remove 500 Million Users From App

While WhatsApp has still not quite secured its usual lock on the US market, in Europe and Asia it has become a quasi mobile network. And nowhere is that more the case than India, the platform’s biggest market with around 500 million users.

But India is also one of the markets battling against its inability to access end-to-end encrypted content from a security and law enforcement perspective. And its introduction of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules in 2021 was intended to combat this.

This legislation mandates that law enforcement can use the courts to force a social media company to disclose the sender of an original message, such that dangerous or illegal content can be traced to source. Clearly that means not only sharing the identities of those sending messages, but breaking the security around the content itself, to link that back to the relevant user.

This week, WhatsApp’s counsel Tejas Karia told the High Court in New Delhi that “as a platform, we are saying that if we are told to break encryption, then WhatsApp goes.”

The lawyer went on to explain that if it were to adhere—which it won’t, then it would require the storage of “millions and millions of messages for a number of years,” given that “we don’t know which messages will be asked to be decrypted.”

Somewhat against the courtroom spirt of never asking a question to which you don’t know the answer, the bench asked WhatsApp’s counsel “have these matters been taken up anywhere in the world? You have never been asked to share the information anywhere in the world? Even in South America?”

To which the reply was very simple: “There is no such rule anywhere else in the world, not even Brazil.”

Despite the downsides of WhatsApp (and Meta), I think it’s good that an end-to-end encrypted messaging app as big as it is fighting against this stuff.


Agreed. Say what you want about Meta’s metadata harvesting. At least with WhatsApp’s use of Signal encryption you don’t have third world government thugs intercepting messages and having people arrested and killed.


I remember a few years ago in an interview a WhatsApp head was saying how strange it was governments are always asking to relax privacy not improve it