Facebook-owned instant messaging platform WhatsApp has rejected the Indian government’s demand to build a software to trace the origin of messages in the fight against fake news, reports PTI. India had earlier asked for WhatsApp to allow tracing of messages after it came to light that forwarded messages on the messenger resulted in the spread of messages allegedly leading to mob-lynchings.
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. Our focus remains working closer with others in India to educate people about misinformation and help keep people safeA WhatsApp spokesperson
WhatsApp has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this week, WhatsApp head Chris Daniels had met with Union Minister for Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad. Prasad had stated that the government had asked for a local corporate entity to be established along with technology to trace messages.
The government has so far served two notices to WhatsApp in its bid to reduce the dissemination of fake news and rumours. India is WhatApp’s largest market with over 200 million users and growing.
This is however not the first time that India has asked for a local subsidiary to be set up in order to monitor encrypted communication. In 2011-12, the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had asked Canadian smartphone manufacturer Research in Motion to set up a server in India to allow it to monitor messages sent using the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) platform.
WhatsApp finished rolling out end-to-end encryption for all users across its platform in 2016.