WhatsApp rejects India’s demand to track origin of message

Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption, says the Facebook-owned company

August 23, 2018 06:04 pm | Updated 09:20 pm IST - New Delhi

WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels meets Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi on Tuesday.

WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels meets Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The Indian government and WhatsApp appear to be at loggerheads over tracing the origin of fake messages. The messaging platform has said it will not comply with the government’s demand as the move will undermine the privacy of WhatsApp users.

“People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families. Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating potential for serious misuse,” the Facebook-owned firm said on Thursday.

“WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections we provide,” a company spokesperson stressed, adding, “Our focus remains working closely with others in India to educate people about misinformation and help keep people safe.”

However, a source in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that given the increased instances of crime due to fake news circulated on various platforms, including WhatsApp, the government expects the company to “continue to explore technical innovations whereby, in case of large scale circulation of provocative and nefarious messages leading to violence and crime, the origin can be ascertained.”

“It [WhatsApp] needs to set up an Indian corporate entity subject to Indian laws in a defined time frame,” the source added.

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