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Signal App Head on Govt Threats to Break Encryption: 'Privacy a Red Line, Would Rather Shut Down'

Meredith Whittaker tells Seema Chishti of 'The Wire' in an interview that Signal would pushback India’s controversial IT Rules, adding that governments around the world, including India, are trying to break the messaging app's encryption.

Meredith Whittaker, president of Signal, the popular messaging app, says her company “will never undermine the privacy promise of people who rely on us. We would shut down before we would do that. It is a red line”.

In an interview to Seema Chishti of The Wire, at the RightsCon conference in San Jose, Costa Rica on June 7, 2023, Whittaker spoke about a range of issues from artificial intelligence (AI) to the moves governments around the world – including in India – are contemplating to break the messaging app’s encryption which allows users to communicate securely with one another without being compromised by official surveillance.

Asked specifically about some of the provisions of India’s controversial IT Rules, she said Signal would push back. On Artificial Intelligence, she says AI can and must be regulated. But Big Tech is now speaking of AI in apocalyptic terms to try and distract from the pressing issues that need attention. The only thing intelligent in ‘AI’ is the human labour that goes into it. Surveillance as a business model must be challenged.