The Delhi High Court has asked the centre to respond to appeals made by Facebook and WhatsApp challenging the new IT rules for social media intermediaries that require the messaging apps to track chats and identify the first source of information. The new rules have been challenged on the grounds that they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.

Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notices and directed the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) to respond to Whatsapp as well as Facebook’s pleas and to file an application to stay implementation of the rules.

As per WhatsApp, the requirement of intermediaries to enable the identification of the first source of information in India upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits at risk. Meanwhile, Facebook has urged the high court to declare Rule 4 (2) of the Intermediary Rules unconstitutional, violative of the IT Act, and illegal.

The court has now listed the matter for hearing on October 22, 2021.