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Calls, messages encrypted, can’t access details: WhatsApp to HC

The accused are suspected to be part of a drug syndicate and had a WhatsApp group to coordinate the "illegal trade".

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | October 27, 2020 6:15:09 am
Delhi journalist granted bail Delhi news, Delhi high court, Delhi espionage case, Indian expressSharma was arrested on September 14. Two other persons - a Chinese and a Nepalese national - were arrested by the police later.

WhatsApp cannot access details of messages and calls on its platform, the Facebook-owned messaging app has told the Delhi High Court in response to a notice issued to it in a drugs case.

In the bail pleas filed by three accused, who are suspected to be major suppliers of “illegal smack” in the national capital, Delhi Police had told the court that WhatsApp was not responding to its queries related to the case registered at New Usmanpur police station after recovery of 25 grams of ‘smack’ from the main accused. Following the submission, the court had issued a notice to WhatsApp.

The accused are suspected to be part of a drug syndicate and had a WhatsApp group to coordinate the “illegal trade”. The contents of the group are unknown and cannot be ascertained unless a transcript of the WhatsApp conversations is obtained, as per the police. A number of WhatsApp calls have also taken place among the accused, the court was told.

While objecting to issuance of notice in a bail matter, WhatsApp through its counsels told the court that it has already given the details available with it, “to the extent possible”, to the police but it “cannot access the details of messages and calls on its platform as they are end-to-end encrypted”.

The court was told that a similar question regarding the “extent of disclosure that can be directed against” WhatsApp or Facebook is pending before the Supreme Court.

Observing that it has not examined the objection raised by WhatsApp regarding issuance of notice in bail matters and leaves the question open, Justice Prathiba M Singh in the order said the information disclosed or not disclosed by WhatsApp is not subject matter of the petitions. “If the Delhi Police wishes to pursue any other remedies for seeking disclosure of information against WhatsApp Inc. they are permitted to avail of the same, in accordance with law,” the court said in the order.


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