Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet, Sara Ali Khan summoned by NCB
Deepika Padukone, Rakul Preet, Sara Ali Khan summoned by NCB.Instagram

For anyone who has seen The Family Man or for that matter (any crime series well-researched enough to reflect reality) will know the investigative agencies can access your phone data and the much-guarded WhatsApp chats by a simple click. While in the series that may have been done a doting father to spy on his adolescent daughter, such acts are reserved for much serious felonies.

As the leaked WhatsApp chats between Deepika Padukone and her manager Karishma do the rounds of social media and news channels, the controversy detours and gives rise to yet another debate. How could the end-to-end encrypted WhatsApp chats be breached?

Considering WhatsApp clearly states that, "We also offer end-to-end encryption for our Services, which is on by default, when you and the people with whom you message use a version of our app released after April 2, 2016. End-to-end encryption means that your messages are encrypted to protect against us and third parties from reading them."

So, did the NCB hack into Deepika's WhatsApp chats?

No, it didn't have to. For two reasons; the investigative agencies have been empowered to retrieve the data (which they do) by creating a clone of the user's phone that gives access to all the data onto the cloned device. In the current case, the click to email the entire chat history did the trick.

In India, anyway as many as 10 central/intelligence agencies have been empowered to access, retrieve, monitor, decrypt the information in any electronic form. Narcotics Control Bureau is one of them. The several Cloud services available that help one store data on the internet, also give access to the same data on forensic intervention.

While the chats between Deepika Padukone and Karishma date back to 2017, these messages were retrieved using chat storage through Jaya Saha's iCloud account. Jaya Saha apparently had the WhatsApp chats going as far back as 2015 backed up online on her iCloud account. That also explains how the agencies have easily been able to access WhatsApp chats not just between Deepika Padukone and her manager, but the chats of Rhea Chakraborty, Jaya Saha, Sushant Singh Rajput.

A WhatsApp logo is seen behind a phone
A WhatsApp logo is seen behind a phone.REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Of the deleted and delivered messages

As soon as a message is delivered, Whatsapp policy says that they are deleted from their servers. However, any Whatsapp data which has been stored on Google drive or backed up on any other such cloud service does not have end-to-end encryption. As for the undelivered messages, they stay on the Whatsapp server for about 30 days. As for the delivered and then deleted messages, they also stay on the Whatsapp server for 30 days. Pretty much like a deleted mail stays in your account or a picture stays in your deleted folder for 30 days.