Government not seeking decryption from WhatsApp; but identity and location of users spreading fake news

"On the issue of traceability, I emphasized that when we talk of traceability, we don't talk of decrypting messages".

  • Published: November 1, 2018 1:54 PM IST

The government on Wednesday said it is not seeking decryption of messages on WhatsApp, but rather the location and identity of those spreading misinformation that provokes violence and heinous offenses. After meeting with WhatsApp vice president Chris Daniels, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “On the issue of traceability, I emphasized that when we talk of traceability, we don’t talk of decrypting messages”. “We insist rather on location and identification of the sender of WhatsApp messages when such messages lead to provocation of violence, heinous offenses, and other serious crimes,” he said.

The Facebook-owned company has been under pressure for months to put in place a mechanism to clamp down on fake messages on its platform. “They have assured us that they have appointed a grievance officer for India. I said that we would appreciate if a grievance officer is also located in India,” Prasad said. The minister said he also emphasized during the meeting that WhatsApp was an important instrument of message circulation, especially during elections.

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“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,” he said. This announcement comes right after WhatsApp announced that it will name its India head by the end of the year along with building a local team that will be tasked with serving the customers in the Indian market.

The local team for WhatsApp will also work along with government leaders and local partners to ensure the safety of the users. In terms of the feature on the messaging platform, the company is also working on a new feature known as “private reply” where users can send a private reply to any WhatsApp group member.

With inputs from PTI

  • Published Date: November 1, 2018 1:54 PM IST