WhatsApp says ‘no’ to Indian govt on tracing origin of fake messages

whats app, indain govt at loggerheads

The Hush Post: The California-based messaging platform WhatsApp in a statement has said that the firm would not weaken its privacy protections, in response to the Indian government’s request to help trace the origin of fake texts.

“Requiring traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse,” the statement read.  The firm would not weaken its privacy protections as people rely on WhatsApp for sensitive conversations, including with their doctors and banks, spokesperson Carl Woog said.

“WhatsApp should give a more firm assurance of compliance with Indian laws. It should establish a grievance office with wide network and set up an Indian corporate entity, subject to Indian laws, in a defined timeframe,” a source from the Information Technology (IT) Ministry said.

WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Chris Daniels met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad two days back in New Delhi to discuss ways to prevent the spread of fake messages. WhatsApp has been in talks with the government over the past couple of months on the issue of mob lynching, allegedly caused by fake messages sent through its platform.

WhatsApp has now limited ‘forwards’ to five chats in India and removed the quick forward option altogether. It is also testing a label, which marks links sent on chats as ‘suspicious’.

Talking to the media, Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan said, “The idea is to come up with an effective grievance redressal… targeted prevention or corrective action to be taken in those kinds of cases.”

The department of telecommunications recently sought views from the industry regarding banning Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc, in situations where national security and public order were under threat.

CEO Daniels met Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao in Hyderabad for setting up of WhatsApp’s upcoming customer service operations centre. Facebook, which owns the messaging service, already has its India development centre in Hyderabad.

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