A team from WhatsApp reportedly met with officials from the Government of India to talk about the ability to trace the messages sent on the multimedia messaging platform. Both sides held discussions about allowing the ability to trace the messages in face of increasing unrest and violence in the public. This is the first time that the company has expressed its willingness on a demand that Indian government has been adamant on. This comes more than one-and-half year after cases of violence stemming from misinformation spread through WhatsApp started cropping up.
Ever since the initial few cases, the government has ordered WhatsApp to take steps to stop the spread of misinformation. WhatsApp has tried to find solutions while coming up with advertisements in newspapers, television advertorials, and even commercials on the radio. The company also contemplated starting outreach and education programs to ensure that its users can differentiate between correct and incorrect information. Regardless of these attempts though, the government has continued to demand the platform for a way to trace the fake news and disinformation filled messages to its source. In addition to this, the government also demanded a number of other things including appointing an India-based head, to all of which the company has complied.
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Before the latest batch of information, the company had resisted and denied any ability to trace messages. However, according to ET, it finally looks like the company is considering some feature that would allow the government of combat fake news. According to the report, both sides discussed the issue through a video conference and the call was initiated by WhatsApp.
The report quotes a senior government official as saying, “Officials from WhatsApp were in listening mode and did not offer any kind of final response on the issues discussed.” The report clarified that the primary agenda of the discussion was “technical issues on traceability”. Another official added, “This was the first discussion and things are at a preliminary stage right now.”
A representative from the company added that the company “regularly engages with the government of India to discuss our commitment to maintaining a private and safe platform for people to communicate with one another.” Last but not least, WhatsApp has maintained that it will not break the end-to-end encryption that it offers its users and it also did not offer any “yes” or “no” answer to the demands of traceability of messages.