‘If WhatsApp leaves India, Indian apps will replace it’

Sunil Pradhan
Saturday, 9 February 2019

Cyber experts point to need for government to frame data sharing rules to protect users’ privacy

Pune: Following the media reports of WhatsApp deciding to leave India if the government insists on enforcing data sharing rules, cyber experts said there is no need to panic if it decides to do so. They said the government has to quickly form a legal framework to decide their course of action before passing orders to social media sites, search engines and other intermediaries on the Internet.
While the government has been pressurising WhatsApp to share users’ data, experts say it is a case of breach of privacy and so there has to be a legal course to solve the issue.
Speaking on the issue, cyber expert Harold Dcosta said WhatsApp has end-to-end encryption policy which keeps its users safe. “If WhatsApp decides to share details of its users with the government, the privacy of people is breached and so this is not a logical move. At the same time, the government wants to solve the issue of menace caused by WhatsApp messages and so in this situation, the government will have to bring in rules in law. Once the legal framework is formed, the companies will have to abide by the law,” added Dcosta. 

Speaking about dependency of people on WhatsApp, he said, “People should not panic if WhatsApp decides to quit India. We do have Indian mobile applications which provide similar functionalities. If WhatsApp decides to quit, these applications can be tested and people can use them.” Cyber expert Pankajj Ghode, Founder and Chairman of Global Blockchain Foundation said as the government is in the process of forming rules and regulations for social media sites and other intermediaries there are bound to be objections from such companies, which will eventually die out.

“We all know Europe was firm on EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and there were objections during that time. We too need to stick to our laws or else we will continue to face the menace of fake messages and rumours which is taking lives of people,” added Ghode. 

Speaking on the threat of WhatsApp to leave India, Ghode said it will be difficult for the company to give up a large base of customers. 

Cyber expert Anil Raj of Cybervault Securities Solutions Private Limited said, “WhatsApp has over 200 million Indian users and it will not leave India so easily. If WhatsApp decides to leave India, it will take some time and so people should not panic so soon.” 

Cyber experts said social media sites are acting as a broadcast point which multiplies the damage done through fake messages and so there needs to be regulation to manage such content. 

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