Govt Has A New Scheme To Track 40 Crore WhatsApp Users In India & Monitor Their Chats

Govt Has A New Scheme To Track 40 Crore Whatsapp Users In India & Monitor Their Chats
Govt Has A New Scheme To Track 40 Crore Whatsapp Users In India & Monitor Their Chats

Senior government officials informed about the government’s latest proposal to WhatsApp for assigning an alpha-numeric hash to every message sent through this platform.

According to them, this solution will break the deadlock over traceability on the messaging app. 

Why A Hash?

Basically, the hash can travel with the message. 

The originator of the message can be traced without breaking the app’s encryption, if any unlawful activity is detected.

Further, the officials added, “the government is willing to work with WhatsApp to come up with a solution to enable traceability of message originators without breaking encryption,”.

Prior to this, the Centre notified the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 in February.

This mandates help in getting the traceability of the first originator of a message flagged by either a court of law or an authorised government agency.

WhatsApp’s Resistance For Compliance

So far, WhatsApp has resisted the demand to trace the origin of flagged messages citing inviolability of its privacy norms.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp was also communicating its inability to provide traceability due to the lack of appropriate technology.

Although, the government has remained steadfast in its demand for compliance considering it a “law and order” requirement.

Currently, “the discussions are ongoing, WhatsApp has not formally communicated its position so far,” according  to the officials. 

What Does WhatsApp Say?

So, now WhatsApp has three months to comply with the February notification as it is considered a “significant social media intermediary” with over five million users in India being its largest market.

In its defense, the San Francisco headquartered messaging platform has argued that billions of messages are sent from its platform every minute.

Thus it’s almost impossible to store or keep a track, according to them.

What Is Indian Government’s Take On The Situation?

The Indian government doesn’t ask WhatsApp to store the entire message but only the hash.

So that it can help in traceability in case of a law and order situation.

Further saying, “You can’t run such a large platform and build no accountability into it. Even if one woman’s dignity is compromised, they must help in nabbing the perpetrators,”.

“The company hoped to find a solution to address the Indian government’s traceability concerns without breaking end-to-end encryption”, siad Will Cathcart, WhatsApp chief, while speaking on a podcast, earlier this month.

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