The Indian Government is certainly not content with the measures Whatsapp has taken as of now, to reduce spread of fake messaging. Hence, the Government, according to multiple media reports, is now beginning to take an even sterner action.
This time around, the Government will demand the messaging app to work out a technical solution to trace the origins of incendiary messages which are spread on its platform.
According to a report published on The Economic Times, the Ministry of Electronics and IT is drafting a letter asking social media and messaging companies to design a technology-led solution to trace the origins of incendiary messages, which in the past has led to mob lynching or riots in the country.
After the Indian government raised such issues, WhatsApp started limiting forwards to five groups at a time from 250, started identifying forwarded messages, and also ran a publicity campaign against fake news.
However, the government says that these measures may not be enough. The new letter will reiterate that WhatsApp is not meeting all the government concerns. An unnamed official said to ETTech:
We are not asking them to look into the contents of the message, but if some message has been forwarded, say, 100 times and has caused some law and order problem, then they should be able to identify where it originated from. We are not being unfair since we can’t allow anonymous publishing.
Some analysts believe that the government’s demand is reasonable and the company could provide traceability using metadata without compromising on encryption.
The government has also asked the company to appoint a grievance officer in India, set up an Indian entity, and ensure traceability of messages. It’s noteworthy that the company has already created a legal entity in India — WhatsApp Application Services Private Limited.
In response to the government’s demands, WhatsApp spokesperson said in August that building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. The spokesperson added that the company will not weaken the privacy protections.