WhatsApp Declines India's Demand for Message TraceabilitySocial Media

August 24, 2018 04:55
WhatsApp Declines India's Demand for Message Traceability

(Image source from: FaktXeber.com)

WhatsApp on Thursday said tracking the origin of messages on its platform would undermine end-to-end encryption and affect privacy protection for users leading rejection of India's demand.

The Facebook-owned company further said emphasizing people use its platform for all kinds of "sensitive conversations" and the focus is on educating people about misinformation.

To break through a technology solution to trace the origin of messages, the authorities have been pushing WhatsApp, a decision it believes can aid curb horrific crimes like mob-lynching emanating from fake news.

"Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections we provide," a WhatsApp spokesperson told PTI.

Sources in IT (Information Technology) Ministry said that the government has asserted that WhatsApp should continue to explore technical innovations whereby in case of mass circulation of provocative and nefarious messages inciting violence and crime, the origin can be ascertained.

The ministry is also seeking a more firm assurance of compliance with Indian laws from the company, as well as establishment of grievance officer with a wide network, said the source who is familiar with the ministry's view on the matter.

The ministry has also emphasized that a local corporate entity, subject to Indian laws, be set up by the company in a defined timeframe.

An instant messaging application - WhatsApp - over the past few months has drawn flak over its usage in diffusing fake news through its platform that has even incited mob-lynching incidents in various parts of the country.

WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels had met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier this week. After the meeting, Prasad told reporters that the government has asked WhatsApp to set up a local corporate entity and find a technology solution to trace the origin of fake messages circulated through its platform as well as appoint a grievance officer.

The government is taking a stern view of the use of social media platforms for the spread of misinformation, as general elections slated to be held next year in India.

WhatsApp has its largest market in India with a base of more than 200 million users of the over 1.5 billion global user base.

The government has served two notices to WhatsApp, seeking details of actions it has taken to curb the menace. In its consequence, WhatsApp had informed that it is building a local team, including having an India's head, and has introduced new features to let its users identify forwarded messages.

WhatsApp is running the advocacy and education programme to assist people spot fake news has likewise restricted the number of forwards that can be done at a time.

By Sowmya Sangam

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