Government urges WhatsApp to add digital fingerprint, gets denied

  • Government urges WhatsApp to add digital fingerprint, gets denied

Government urges WhatsApp to add digital fingerprint, gets denied

The privacy vs. security battle is heating up in India. Now, responding to Economic Times report which claimed that Indian Government had asked WhatsApp to include the ability to track every message - also referred to as fingerprinting messages - without compromising its end-to-end encryption, the Facebook-owned company told IANS News agency that it's against the idea and has nothing to add as it "undermines the privacy of users". "We don't want to read the messages but when we see a problematic message we should be able to go to WhatsApp to help us trace the sender". "They have to find a way, it is technically possible", the government officials were quoted as saying.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Invest India on Tuesday picked 5 Indian startups who would receive almost Rs 35 lakh ($50,000) each to further develop country-first products to solve real-life problems being faced by millions in the country. The reason being cited by the government is that it wants to check the spread of misinformation that has led to several lynchings in the country over the previous year. Notably, the messaging app boasts of a secure, end to end encryption on its platform since the year 2016. Even though WhatsApp has introduced a machine learning system to detect and weed out inauthentic behavior, it's still grappling to contain the problem.

The report indicates that WhatsApp has been consistently asked by the Indian government to make the platforms' messages traceable ever since the reported lynchings happened back in 2018 in the country due to misinformation spread on the messaging platform about child kidnappings. It has revealed that WhatsApp has countered stating that there's nothing new to add to what they have previously said on the same concern to the government.

Earlier in 2018, a similar demand was raised by the government, which WhatsApp had rejected stating, "Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse".

Ultimately though, nobody would want to use a messaging app that functions as a backdoor for government snooping.