WhatsApp message traceability problem: IIT Madras professor has perfect solution!
The instant messaging platform, WhatsApp has been given a tough time by the Indian government. It has been asked it to allow the origins of a message to be traceable for authorities to check.
The instant messaging platform, WhatsApp has been given a tough time by the Indian government. It has been asked it to allow the origins of a message to be traceable for authorities to check. The platform has been against the proposal, saying that doing so would compromise end-to-end encryption that protects the contents of all the messages shared on its platform. This means that the privacy of users could be at stake. However, an IIT Madras professor has a solution to this problem and believes that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.
"If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible," said V. Kamakoti, while delivering a lecture at Indian Council of World Affairs. He added that when a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message.
"So, the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient. When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient," he said, adding that as per court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases. "In this way, you do not need to break end-to-end encryption and infringe the privacy of anyone and yet make the messages traceable when the investigating agencies want to find out. And this is what we have projected to WhatsApp," he said.
Last year in December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology proposed changes to Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. These changes require companies to "enable tracing out of originators of information on its platform as required by legally authorised government agencies". However, the end-to-end encryption feature in WhatsApp makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign.
The platform has maintained that attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the end-to-end encryption, and its private nature, leading to possibilities of being misused. The encryption means that only sender and recipient can see the texts in circulation - not even WhatsApp. With over 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp's biggest market in the world. Globally, the platform has over 1.5 billion users.