WhatsApp and the Indian government have been at odds for a couple of months now, unable to see eye-to-eye on the issue of fake news. This contentious relationship is about to break a bit further because the app has just turned down a request from the administration.
The issue at hand is the rampant spread of malicious forwards on WhatsApp, resulting in many people being murdered by mob violence. There have been some developments to curb this like labeling forwarded messages and limiting the number of forwards which can be sent from an account to five.
WhatsApp vs Indian Government
This hasn’t been enough for the government though. What it wants is a system to track down just who sent the original provocative message. This is impossible at the moment since WhatsApp enforces complete end-to-end encryption, meaning it can’t spy on its users. The administration wants a way around this.
WhatsApp is refusing to bow down to the government’s wishes, saying that creating such software would undermine end-to-end encryption and the app’s privacy promise. The company doesn’t want to weaken the privacy protections it provides as this could create the potential for misuse.
Instead, WhatsApp intends to educate Indians about misinformation, helping them to spot it. A source told PTI that the ministry is also waiting for a more firm assurance of compliance with Indian laws from the brand. It wants the firm to establish a grievance officer with a wide network as well.
In the long run, the government is asking WhatsApp to open up an official corporate presence in India which is subject to Indian laws. The chat app had previously confirmed it was setting up a local team and was looking to appoint an India head.