Categories Apps

Looking for the Location and Identity of Those Misusing WhatsApp, Not Decryption: Government

Published by
Sneha Bhardwaj

Continuing with its firm stance on traceability, the government stated that it has not sought decryption of WhatsApp messages but instead wants the location and identity of those misusing the platform to spread the fake news that provokes violence. IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who met WhatsApp Vice President Chris Daniels, also asserted that the “institutional integrity” of the platform be maintained ahead of elections. “On the issue of traceability, I emphasised that when we talk of traceability, we don’t talk of decrypting messages,” Prasad said.

whatsapp-location-decryption

“We insist rather on location and identification of the sender of WhatsApp messages when such messages lead to provocation of violence, heinous offences and other serious crimes,” he said. The minister added that he has been assured by the WhatsApp leadership team that they will look into the matter and revert.

The Facebook-owned company has been under pressure for months now to put in place a mechanism to curb fake messages on its platform. Following multiple incidents of mob lynching across the country, the government had slapped WhatsApp with two notices, with the second one warning that it will treat the messaging platform as an abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow if adequate checks are not put in place.

Prasad had met Daniels in August this year too, and apart from the traceability request, he had asked WhatsApp to set up a local corporate entity and appoint a grievance officer to address complaints. “I met Chris Daniels, along with his team, on Wednesday and discussed various issues of the past. They have assured us that they have appointed a grievance officer for India. I have suggested that we will appreciate if grievance officer is also located in India,” Prasad said.

Daniels declined to comment on the specifics of the meeting. In an emailed response WhatsApp spokesperson said: “We appreciate the opportunity to meet with government leaders, including Minister Prasad who confirmed his support for encryption and the privacy of our users. WhatsApp is deeply committed to serving the people of India and working closely with civil society and government leaders to help address abuse on our platform”.

“Our new Head of WhatsApp India, who will be named by the end of the year, will build a local team that can serve our customers in India as well as work with partners and government leaders to help keep people safe.” The minister said that during the meeting, he also emphasised that WhatsApp is an important instrument of message circulation even during elections, and hence its institutional integrity is paramount.

“…it is appropriate and desirable that the institutional integrity of this platform is maintained so that abusers cannot abuse it. They (WhatsApp) have also assured that they will work with my department in preventing circulation of spam farms,” he said.

Over the past few months, WhatsApp has taken a number of steps to meet the government’s concerns but has not yielded to its biggest demand — identifying originators of rogue messages. WhatsApp had launched a label that clearly identifies forwarded messages and also barred forwarding to messages to more than five people at one go.

The company is also conducting research with academics and other experts to help understand the challenge of misinformation and improve efforts over time. It has published ads in various newspapers outlining steps to spot fake news and is also organising roadshows for spreading the message.

Sneha Bhardwaj

Share
Published by
Sneha Bhardwaj

Recent Posts

Realme Techlife Watch SZ100 Budget Smartwatch Launched in India

Realme during its Realme Narzo 50 5G series launch event has introduced a new smartwatch…

Realme Narzo 50 5G Series Launched in India – Specifications and Pricing

Realme has finally launched its Realme Narzo 50 5G series in India on Wednesday. The…

Poco C40 and C40+ Officially Confirmed to be in the Works

The popular smartphone manufacturer Poco is apparently gearing up for the launch of a new…

BSNL Prepaid Plans Under Rs 500 That Are a Steal

The Indian telecom sector is dominated by the three private players – Reliance Jio, Airtel…

Vodafone Idea and C-DoT Sign MoU to Develop and Deploy IoT/M2M Solutions in India

Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL), the third-largest telecom operator in the country, has just announced that…

iPhone 14 Launch Event Date Leaked, More Products to Launch on Same Day

Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 14 series later in September this year. According…

Airtel Performed Way Better than Jio, Vi in Q4 FY22

The financial results for March 2022 quarter are out for all the private telecom operators…

Wi-Fi 6E Routers Add New 6 GHz Band, Should You Upgrade

Wi-Fi 6E routers are the next generation router technology that consumers will get to witness.…

Is 4G Enough for BSNL to Turn Things Over

4G networks from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be available in multiple parts of…