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Govt. demands fingerprinting of messages from WhatsApp to trace origin

Last Updated: June 18, 2019

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Govt. demands fingerprinting of messages from WhatsApp to trace origin

Govt. demands fingerprinting of messages from WhatsApp to trace origin

18 June 2019 Current Affairs: The Indian government has demanded Whatsapp, the Facebook-owned messaging application, to digitally fingerprint messages that are sent on its platform without breaking the encryption. 

Aim:
The move is to ensure traceability of all content shared through the WhatsApp platform, without reading the message. The decision is in line with draft amendments to intermediary guidelines of the Information Technology Act released in December 2018, which requires all internet platforms to ensure traceability of the origin of all content shared through them.
This step may proivde harm free speech on the internet and can increase government control on private data. This will require the government to introduce accountable measures at its end, to ensure data protection.

New Architecture:
A digital fingerprint on messages means that WhatsApp has to create a database of messages shared on its platform and store them with a unique fingerprint. This will also call for WhatsApp to redesign its whole architecture. WhatsApp has maintained its stand of not being able to offer traceability on the existing end-to-end encryption architecture.

Why the move:
The government demands thus, after the misinformation and rumours around child kidnappings on the platform which led to a spate of lynchings across India in 2018. This made the government to demand strictly WhatsApp to introduce ways in which the origination of message can be traced in an effective manner.

Majority Indian users using WhatsApp:
AudienceNet, an UK-based social and consumer research agency, reported that the majority of the respondents in India selected WhatsApp as the preferred choice of social media network and a messaging platform. 
It also highlighted that about 78% of the respondents trust WhatsApp to keep their personal details private and secure.
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