And just when you think that it couldn’t possibly be worse, people continue to surprise us by the sheer ridiculousness of some of the things they do. And yes, they are ‘activists’, As if it didn’t already had enough to do, ET reports, that the supreme court now must hear a petition on banning WhatsApp in India.
And you will be even more surprised when you hear the reasoning behind the plea. Filed by Sudhir Yadav, a Haryana-based right-to-information (RTI) activist, the petition bases itself on WhatsApp’s recent move to enable a 256-bit encryption that is virtually unbreakable.
Yup. While the rest of the world is celebrating a move that will put their most private thoughts and conversations beyond the reach of most government agencies, Mr. Yadav has decided that he doesn’t quite like the way the winds are blowing.
Even if WhatsApp was asked to break through an individual’s message to hand over the data to the government, it too would fail as it does not have the decryption keys either.
His reasoning is that terrorists and criminals may be using it to plot terror and there is no way to get into the messages since they are completely encrypted.
The petition also includes other messaging platforms such as Hike, Secure Chat, Viber etc. that also deploy high encryption and in Mr. Yadav’s opinion constitute a threat to national security.
Yes sir, while there are a whole bunch of choice idioms that come to mind while considering the petition — that include, an empty mind houseth trouble and so on — we will refrain from mentioning them here. Instead we will just ask you to consider a simple fact.
There are virtually hundreds of messaging application that are active at present and their sheer number makes it impossible for Governments to monitor every single message. That being said, WhatsApp is also one of the most popular messaging applications around and while we are not sure if terrorists deploy it to plan their attacks or not, we do know that a very large section of the populace certainly use it for almost everything they talk about.
Assuming that the Supreme Court does ban WhatsApp based on the extremely flimsy reasons provided, What’s next then? Ban landlines because they may be being used to plan attacks? Ban private transport? And honestly, I find the idea of men sitting in caves chatting with each other about their next attack, not very convincing.
It needs to be said that preventing terror is extremely important. However, it shouldn’t be done at the cost of the basic fundamental rights which include freedom of expression — and conversation, although it isn’t specifically mentioned — the very thing that WhatsApp and other social platforms stand for.
However, if we find ourselves reduced to banning internet messaging applications due to the fear of terrorist using them, well, they might as well be succeeding in their mission to sow terror amongst us.