NEW DELHI: Amid huge public furore over threat to privacy, the government on Tuesday withdrew its proposed draft national encryption policy within a span of 24 hours. The policy put out on Monday proposed to make it mandatory for storage of all messages, mails, WhatsApp chats and social media communication for a period of 90 days, to enhance security.
Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday said that a revised policy will be placed in the public domain again. “There have been some uncalled for misgivings and we have asked the department to withdraw the draft and reword appropriately. The encryption policy relates only to those who encrypt, not to ordinary consumers,” Prasad said.
With huge public backlash over such a move on social media, Prasad said, “Draft policy on encryption is not the final view of the government. But I have noted some of the concerns expressed by certain enlightened segments of the public.”
However, this did not stop opposition parties crying foul and claiming it was a move by the government to “snoop” on people. Congress slammed it, saying the government’s intent stands “exposed”, while the CPI-M dubbed it “Gujarat Snooping Model”.
On Tuesday, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) clarified that social media websites and applications will be exempted from the purview of the encryption policy.
“The mass-use encryption products, which are currently being used in web applications, social media sites, and social media applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter etc are being exempted from the purview of the draft National Encryption Policy,” Deity said in a proposed addendum to the policy.
Prasad stated that the government supports the freedom of social media and it is taking necessary steps to promote it.