India has demanded a solution to track the origin of messages on WhatsApp platform. WhatsApp has rejected this, saying building traceability will undermine end-to-end encryption and affect privacy protection for users.
Emphasising that people use its platform for all kinds of “sensitive conversations”, the Facebook-owned company said the focus is on educating people about misinformation.
Indian government for this because it believes that it can help curb horrific crimes like mob-lynching emanating from fake news.
A WhatsApp spokesperson told PTI, “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”.
Over the past few months, WhatsApp has drawn flak over its use in spreading the fake news through its platform that has even incited incidents of mob-lynching in various parts of the country.
WhatsApp Head Chris Daniels had met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier this week. After the meeting, Prasad told reporters that the government has asked WhatsApp to set up a local corporate entity and find a technology solution to trace the origin of fake messages circulated through its platform as well as appoint a grievance officer.
He acknowledged the role played by the Facebook-owned company in India’s digital story but was stern that WhatsApp could face abetment charges if it did not take action to tackle the issue of fake news being circulated on its platform.
Daniels had declined to comment on the proceedings after the meeting.
With general elections slated to be held next year in India, the government is taking a stern view of the use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for the spread of misinformation.
The government has 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 India’s head, and has introduced new features to let its users identify forwarded messages.
WhatsApp has also restricted the number of forwards that can be done at a time.
Besides, the company is also running an advocacy and education programme to help people spot fake news.