History is repeating itself, and Govt. of India has once again been defeated by advocates of user privacy and encryption.
Whatsapp has flatly refused to comply with Govt.’s demand to trace the origin of any message, and this has indeed come as a shocker.
This is going somewhat Apple’s way, as they too have refused to comply with TRAI’s order to install their app on their devices, citing users’ privacy.
Who will win here: Govt. of India or Whatsapp?
Whatsapp’s U-Turn On Message Traceability
48 hours ago, we had reported that Whatsapp has agreed to meet Govt. of India’s demands, and will set up an office in India, trace all messages so that the origin of fake messages can found out.
Whatsapp’s CEO: Chris Daniels had met IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and promised to take action to stop killings due to the spread of fake messages.
However, now, Whatsapp has taken a complete U-turn, and have flatly refused to enable tracking of messages.
The Minister had said at time, “I flagged that it does not need a rocket science to locate a message being circulated in hundreds and thousands and millions on the same day on the same issue at the same place. You must have a mechanism to find a solution.”
But it seems that tracing messages is rocket science indeed.
Whatsapp’s Reasoning For Refusing Govt. Request
Whatsapp has issued a statement regarding this, and have said that if they trace the messages, and its origin, then it will defeat the purpose of message encryption, which they had announced in 2016.
Whatsapp has always maintained that protecting users’ privacy and information is their primary objective, and there is no compromise on that.
Now, if Whatsapp actually traces the messages, then it will mean that the encryption needs to be abolished, and thus, users’ privacy would be compromised.
A spokesperson from Whatsapp said, “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”.
As per Whatsapp, their users share sensitive information, their intimate details over Whatsapp, and they can’t allow this to be stolen.
Whatsapp has maintained that they will keep on ‘educating and informing’ the users about fake news, and how to identify them.
Besides, they have agreed to set up an office in India, and have a dedicated PoC for all issues originating in India.
Unconfirmed reports state that Govt. has snubbed Whatsapp’s no, and have again asked them to ‘comply with Indian laws’.