WhatsApp could choose to leave its most important market

A rather interesting report appeared, WhatsApp could choose to leave its most important market. Sounds confusing? Let me explain. Based on a report by Livemint, WhatsApp told the Delhi High Court that it would leave India if it was forced to break encryption.

WhatsApp could choose to leave its most important market due to a new law

WhatsApp said the following about it: “As a platform we say [that] if we are told to break the encryption, WhatsApp goes”. The company added that one of the main reasons to use WhatsApp is for privacy reasons, and that end-to-end encryption is one of its privacy pillars. Removing that option would break WhatsApp's trust in its users.

Why did it even get to this point? Well, because of a new law in India. Rule 4(2) of the Technology Rules, 2021, says that “major” social media intermediaries (with more than 5 million registered users) must be able to identify the first author of information on their platform when instructed to do so of a court or other competent authority. The said information includes texts, photos, videos and so on, reports Livemint.

Besides the privacy aspect, there are other issues to take into account

In addition to the privacy aspect, WhatsApp also argued that complying with this rule would require the company to retain many messages for extended periods of time. That is something that no country makes mandatory, WhatsApp added.

The company also added that this rule actually exceeds the scope of parental law, which does not mandate breaking encryption. WhatsApp also confirmed to the court that no other country has made such a request regarding privacy/encryption.

On the other hand, the court argued that there must be a way to trace the senders of messages as responsibility must be taken into account. The entire case has now been adjourned to August 14, after which it will be mixed with more than a dozen other cases questioning various parts of the IT rules.

WhatsApp has a huge number of users in India, more than half a billion

Now you may be wondering why India is the most important market for WhatsApp? Well, India has the largest number of WhatsApp users by far. Based on the information provided by Statista, as of 2024, over 2.78 billion users use WhatsApp worldwide.

Of that number, 535.8 million users are in India. Brazil lags behind with 148 million users, and Indonesia is in third place with 112 million. The US ranks fifth with 98 million users, and so on.

WhatsApp users by country Statista 2024

The point is that India is by far the largest market for WhatsApp. If the app ceases operations in India, the company will lose more than half a billion users.

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