WhatsApp responds to government notice, says message attribution may lead to misuse

WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform.

WhatsApp responds to government notice, says message attribution may lead to misuse

New Delhi: Facebook-owned WhatsApp has responded to the second notice sent by the government wherein the company was asked it to come out with effective solutions to curb the menace of fake news beyond just labelling forwards.

Responding to Zee Business via an email, WhatsApp said the messaging platform is being used to exchange sensitive chats. In such a situation attributing the source or tracking the original source can undermine the private nature of the encrypted chat and also could give rise to serious misuse of the app.

Expressing inability to implement message attribution, WhatsApp said that the platform is being used by people to chat with their family, doctor or bank and even for police inerrogation. Hence any source attribution could make it vulnerable to misuse.

WhatsApp has received flak from the Indian government over fake news and false information being circulated on its messaging platform. Such messages have incited mob-fury, triggering multiple cases of lynching across the country.

The government has also warned the company that mediums used for propagation of rumours are liable to be treated as 'abettors' and can face legal consequences if they remain "mute spectators".

WhatsApp has informed the government that it is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation but has not met the key demand of identifying message originators.

The two senior leadership roles that are currently open for India are -- Head of India and Head of Policy.

The instant messaging app has also outlined initiatives being taken to curb fake news circulation including education and advocacy efforts.

It is also building an India-based team, the official said but noted that the measures do not meet the government's expectations on 'traceability' and attribution of such messages.

WhatsApp, on its part, has maintained that message attributions would , a company official said.

When contacted, a WhatsApp spokesperson said: "To support our users in India and continue our investment in the country, it's our top priority to hire a local leader who can help us b

WhatsApp said that the company's Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema had recently visited India and met with representatives of IT Ministry. He emphasised that government, civil society and tech companies should come together to curb the menace of fake news.

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