WhatsApp is one the most popular chatting apps in India and it is used by people from all walks of life including politicians, activists and of course criminals. Of late, WhatsApp groups have become the prime concern for law enforcement agencies in India as the platform is increasing being used to incite mob and mobilise attacks. While end-to-end encryption may safeguard users, it becomes all the more difficult for the police to track the source of messages. However, if you think that this encryption can completely protect you then you got it all wrong.
WhatsApp collects metadata about every user which Facebook, it’s parent, can share with law enforcement agencies when demanded. While the messages are encrypted, if the police wants then they can get your name, IP address, mobile number, location, mobile network and your mobile handset type. The cops can also get to know with whom you are chatting, for how long and at what time. Also, the police can access your contacts as well. While there are no separate laws for WhatsApp users in India, the police can arrest you with the support of WhatsApp if you do any of the following things under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
WhatsApp group admins can be tracked and jailed if any group member is found to promote unlawful activities
Sharing porn clips, especially child porn, images or obscene material on WhatsApp may get you arrested
Sharing doctored videos, morphed photos of important people on WhatsApp group can attract an arrest
If a woman complains of harassment over WhatsApp, then police can arrest you
Impersonating or creating a WhatsApp account with someone else’s name can get you arrested
Spreading hate messages to provoke harm to any religion or place of worship can get you arrested
Sharing fake news or multimedia files or rumours on sensitive topics to incite violence can land you in trouble
Using WhatsApp to sell drugs or other prohibited things to citizens can invite the attention of cops
Using WhatsApp to send hidden camera sex clips or video clips of people filmed illegally or any kind of voyeurism can get you arrested