Supreme Court Dismisses PIL Seeking WhatsApp Encryption Key

Supreme Court Dismisses PIL Seeking WhatsApp Encryption Key

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sudhir Yadav, an RTI activist has petitioned in SC to ban WhatsApp
  • SC had asked Yadav to approach government for this matter
  • Recently WhatsApp had implemented end to end encryption in its app

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL urging it to ask the government to seek the private key from WhatsApp and similar applications to access their contents in times of need.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked the petitioner, Sudhir Yadav, to approach the appropriate authorities.

Yadav – a Haryana-based RTI activist – said he was not asking for a ban on WhatsApp but wanted the government to ask WhatsApp and 20 other similar applications to share their private key if and when required.

He said this was similar to what the government insisted vis-a-vis BlackBerry.

Yadav said that in the absences of the private key, it would take the government years to access a message. The petition said that in order to decrypt any message on WhatsApp, one would need a whopping 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 564, 039, 457, 584, 007, 913, 129, 639, 935 key combinations, which is almost impossible for even a super computer.

In his petition, Yadav said any terrorist or criminal can safely chat on WhatsApp and make plans to harm the country and the Indian intelligence agencies would not be able to tap into their conversations to take necessary actions.

Other messaging platforms such as Hike, Secure Chat, Viber and a few others are also using high encryption and constitute a threat to national security, the petition said.

Yadav, 27, told IANS that he had written letters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Ministry of Communications and IT before filing the petition, but received no reply.

Written with inputs from IANS

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Tags: Apps, BlackBerry, End to End Encryption, India, Social, Viber, WhatsApp
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[“Source-Gadgets”]

Supreme Court to Hear Plea to Ban WhatsApp

Supreme Court to Hear Plea to Ban WhatsApp

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Decrypting WhatsApp messages is not possible even for super computers.
  • Sudhir Yadav, an RTI activist has petitioned in SC to ban WhatsApp.
  • He is seeking the ban on grounds of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption feature.

The Supreme Court will hear next Wednesday a petition seeking a ban on WhatsApp on the ground that the messaging platform’s end-to-end encryption gives terrorists a means of communication that is impossible to intercept.

Filed by Sudhir Yadav, a Haryana-based right-to-information (RTI) activist, the petition said WhatsApp has from April started to enable its every message with 256-bit encryption that cannot be broken into.

“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,” Yadav said in his petition.

Seeking a ban on WhatsApp in India, Yadav said any terrorist or criminal can safely chat on WhatsApp and make plans to harm the country and the Indian intelligence agencies would not be able to tap into their conversations to take necessary actions.

The petition said that in order to decrypt any message on WhatsApp, one would need a whopping 115, 792, 089, 237, 316, 195, 423, 570, 985, 008, 687, 907, 853, 269, 984, 665, 640, 564, 039, 457, 584, 007, 913, 129, 639, 935 key combinations, which is almost impossible for even a super computer.

Decrypting a single 256-bit encrypted message would take hundreds of years, Yadav said.

Other messaging platforms such as Hike, Secure Chat, Viber and a few others are also using high encryption and constitute a threat to national security, the petition said.

Yadav, 27, told IANS that he had written letters to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Ministry of Communications and IT before filing the petition, but received no reply.

The apex court is now scheduled to hear his public interest litigation (PIL) petition on June 29.

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Tags: Apps, Encryption, End to End Encryption, Hike, India, Social, Viber, WhatsApp
[“Source-Gadgets”]

Supreme Court Gives Government More Time to Curb Child Pornography Sites

Supreme Court Gives Government More Time to Curb Child Pornography Sites

The Supreme Court on Monday gave the government more time to suggest ways and means for blocking child pornography in its all forms as it was told that due to Holi holidays, the required meeting of officials with National Commission for Women (NCW) could not take place.

Granting two weeks’ time as Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand said the meeting of the officials with NCW has yet to take place, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh asked the government to address the submission by the petitioner Kamlesh Vaswani that government, after passing an order blocking 450 child porn websites in 2014, revoked it later.

Asking the government to suggest the ways to curb child pornography, the apex court on last hearing on February 26 had said it could, if it wanted, seek suggestions from the National Commission for Women and “we are sure the said Commission would give its suggestions to the Union of India”.

The court had also said that “the innocent children cannot be made prey to these kind of painful situations, and a nation, by no means, can afford to carry any kind of experiment with its children in the name of liberty and freedom of expression”.

“Watching pornography or compelling watching pornography can’t come with the freedom of expression, speech and thought,” it said, asking Anand to “file an appropriate affidavit of the competent authority to suggest the ways and means so that these activities are curbed”.

Expressing its difficulty in dealing with the issue of clamp down on websites carrying child pornography, the government had told the court on February 26 that “as far as the child pornography is concerned, exercise has been undertaken and the central government shall come with the scheme so that appropriate directions in that regard can be issued”.

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Tags: Child Pornography, Internet, Porn
[“source-Gadgets”]

Reveal answer books, interview marks: Supreme Court to PSCs

The apex court, however, rejected a Kerala high court order for the disclosure of the names of examiners and interviewers by public service commissions if asked to. 
Photo: Mint

The apex court, however, rejected a Kerala high court order for the disclosure of the names of examiners and interviewers by public service commissions if asked to. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Backing demands for transparency and accountability in the selection of bureaucrats, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered two public service commissions—in Kerala and Uttar Pradesh—to reveal the answer sheets and final interview marks of candidates if asked to.

Public service commissions both at the Union and state levels have long faced criticism over their refusal to disclose the marks by which individual candidates are either passed or failed in entrance exams for government jobs.

Disclosing the answer sheets and interview marks will help candidates assess their performance better.

These public service commissions hold entrances exams for selection of civil servants and other jobs. Civil service exams are conducted in three stages—preliminaries and mains (both written tests) and a final oral interview.

Hearing appeals from the Kerala and Uttar Pradesh public service commissions against the decisions of their respective high courts, the Supreme Court ruled that such disclosure of answer papers and mark sheets of interviews if asked for “do not suffer from error of law”.

In two separate rulings following an appeal by candidates, the Kerala high court and the Allahabad bench of the Uttar Pradesh high court in 2011 and 2014, respectively, had asked their respective state public service commissions to disclose answers papers and marks obtained in interviews.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said, “So far as the information sought for by the respondents with regard to the supply of scanned copies of his answer sheet of the written test, copy of the tabulation sheet and other information, we are of the opinion that the view taken in the impugned judgment with regard to the disclosure of these information, does not suffer from error of law and the same is fully justified.”

“Disclosing the marks and the answer sheets to the candidates will ensure that the candidates have been given marks according to their performance in the exam. This practice will ensure fair play in this competitive environment, where a candidate puts his time in preparing for the competitive exams…” the court observed.

The move was welcomed as a step in the direction of transparency that in turn will boost the confidence of people seeking civil service and other government jobs.

“This augurs well for the civil service exam both at the state and central levels. This will lead to better accountability and transparency in the system as selections in public service exams have manifold implications—from social to economic—for the country,” said Sriram Srirangam, director at Sriram’s IAS, a civil service coaching school.

The apex court, however, rejected a Kerala high court order for the disclosure of the names of examiners and interviewers by public service commissions if asked to.

[“source-Livemint”]