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IT Ministry plans to put more pressure on WhatsApp; may insist on message tractability

The IT ministry feels that technical solutions can be found to trace the originator of a message, without actually compromising end-to-end encryption, said a government official, who did not wish to be named.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: September 20, 2018 19:30 IST
IT Ministry plans to put more pressure on WhatsApp; may insist on message tractability

IT Ministry plans to put more pressure on WhatsApp; may insist on message tractability

The IT ministry is reprtedlly planning to put more pressure on messaging giant WhatsApp to assert that it bring in 'traceability' of messages on its platform. The American firm has maintained that enabling tracability will impact end-to-end encryption and violate privacy of users.

According to government sources quoted in a PTI report, an internal discussion was held on the issue and a third letter could now be sent to WhatsApp in the next 7-10 days. WhatsApp was already been slapped with two notices, with the second one warning that it will be liable to be treated as 'abettors' and can face legal consequences if it remains "mute spectators".

The IT ministry feels that technical solutions can be found to trace the originator of a message, without actually compromising end-to-end encryption, said a government official, who did not wish to be named.

Citing examples of potential technical solutions that could be brought to the table, the official said traceability can be brought in for a message that has been forwarded to, say, a high number of users within a short span of time.

This will not not entail "looking into the content of the message" but simply identifying the originator of such a message that has gone viral and crossed a certain threshold, the official added.

Following multiple incidents of mob-lynching across the country -- incited by fake news circulated on WhatsApp -- the government had asked WhatsApp to look for ways to track the original sender of such provocative and nefarious messages.

The Facebook-owned company was also asked to set up a local corporate entity that is subject to Indian laws within a defined time-frame as well as appoint a grievance officer.

WhatsApp has turned down the Indian government's demand to provide it with a solution to track origin of messages on its platform saying doing so will affect end-to-end encryption and breach user privacy.

However, WhatsApp had agreed with the other requests, and has also introduced measures to restrict mass forwarding of messages on its platform, curbing it to five at a time.

Fowarded messages now also carry the "forward" label to help users identify such content.

(With inputs from PTI)

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