- WhatsApp has agreed to meet all demands of the Indian IT ministry, except adding a feature that could help trace origin of a message.
Dealing with fake news via WhatsApp:
- Whatsapp is at the center of controversies concerning circulation of fake news, child porn and other objectionable content.
- The Government holds the view that the messaging platform will be treated as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.
- As a result, the government has issued two notices to Whatsapp to take necessary measures to curb objectionable content and rumours being spread on the messaging platform.
- Whatsapp should comply with Indian laws and have a governance officer in India.
- It must have a grievance officer in India to check the circulation of fake messages.
- It must find solutions for locating the origin of fake messages.
- Whatsapp is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation.
- However, it cannot meet the key demand of identifying message originators.
How is it done?
- Whatsapp has added new features to identify forwarded messages.
- It has agreed to limit the number of people one can forward a message to, to 5.
Why traceability of a message is difficult?
- The user data on Whatsapp is encrypted end-to-end.
- This means only user has access to this data not even Whatsapp.
- Without access to any user data, Whatsapp had virtually no interaction outside the group to identify and block the users.
This (decryption) will require a fundamental change in Whatsapp’s feature which is complete privacy to the user.
Payments Company: Data storage and processing
- WhatsApp is planning to roll out UPI-based integrated payment solution for its 200-million-plus users in India.
- WhatsApp launched its payments service last year in collaboration with ICICI Bank after getting permission from NPCI to run a beta version.
- In April 2018, the RBI directed all payment companies to store all financial data of Indians within India only.
- WhatsApp was sharing some of its data with Facebook. The apprehension is regarding data safety as Facebook has been involved in cases relating to data misuse (Cambridge analytica).
- Whatsapp should have a corporate entity in India with the responsibility of storage and processing of user data in India.
- WhatsApp has agreed to comply with Indian laws and regulations including that of RBI and NPCI in this regard.