WhatsApp turns down Govt demand, says can’t trace origin of message

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Facebook-owned messaging app Whatsapp has turned down the govt demand to trace the origin of messages to curb the spread of fake messages.

In a response, after the govt had asked the messaging app to trace the origin of messages, Whatsapp spokesperson told PTI that 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.

Its main focus remains to educate people about misinformation and help keep people safe, he added.

Last week, IT Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad met WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels and asked the platform to set up a corporate entity in India, appoint a grievance officer and find a technical solution to trace the origin of fake messages on its platform.

He also acknowledged the role of the messaging app in India’s digital story, but also added there are needs to find solutions to deal with other ‘sinister developments’.

WhatsApp could face abetment charges if no action was taken, he added.

The government has asked that if the chat platform is capable of locating specific groups and target audiences for advertisement purposes, it should be able to use similar methods to identify groups which are spreading rumours and inciting violence.

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

It restricted the number of forwards that can be done at a time. As general elections slated to be held in 2019, the govt is taking a stern view of the use of social media platforms.

India is the largest market for WhatsApp with a base of over 210 million users of the over 1.5 billion global user base.

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