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Supreme Court to hear plea calling ban on WhatsApp for national security

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WhatsApp (Fast Company)

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. Other platforms like Hike, Viber and a few others also use high encryption the petition argues. 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 plea noted.

The petition has been filed by Sudhir Yadav, a Haryana-based right-to-information (RTI) activist, argues that WhatsApp’s 256-bit encryption that started from April 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,” the petition claims.

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.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India will hear the case on June 29.

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