The bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur and A M Khanwilkar, however, granted liberty to the petitioner to approach appropriate authority in the government with his grievances.
It said the petitioner could also approach Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) with his plea. During the hearing the bench did not go into the submissions that the message service applications like WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption feature poses a security risk to the country.
Petitioner Sudhir Yadav appearing in person said these messenger services violated the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and Information Technology Act, 2000. Other than WhatsApp, the petitioner had also named over dozen other messaging platforms like Hike, Viber, Signal, Telegram and Secure chat.
“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,” the petitioner said.
In his petition, Yadav said that terrorists and criminals could easily communicate on WhatsApp and make plans which are impossible to access even by supercomputers as decrypting a single 256-bit encrypted message would take hundreds of years.
In an update in April, WhatsApp introuduced 256-bit encryption for all its users. In his petition, he said that this was similar to what the government had insisted vis-a-vis Blackberry as well.