To ensure traceability of messages shared on WhatsApp, the government has asked the instant messaging platform to “fingerprint WhatsApp messages”, reports the Economic Times citing two anonymous senior government officials. The officials said that the platform should be able to trace the origin of a message and know how many times it has been read and forwarded, but insisted that “we [they] don’t want to read the messages”. The officials said, citing the menace of misinformation disseminated through platforms like WhatsApp that it is “not acceptable that no one can trace any messages”. The government is of the opinion that the internet has “reached a level of anonymity” and things can’t go on this way for long. The government had first demanded traceability of WhatsApp messages last year after misinformation and rumours around child kidnappings on the platform led to a series of lynchings across India in 2018. WhatsApp told Medianama that they "have nothing new to add to what we [they] have previously said on this". How WhatsApp can ensure traceability of messages Draft amendments to intermediary guidelines of the Information Technology Act released in December 2018 require all internet platforms to ensure traceability of the origin of all content shared through them. Possible ways WhatsApp can fingerprint messages: Users can make messages either public (media) or private (P2P message). The default setting for all messages should be private. This will impact virality on the platform, but that’s a price it will have to pay for bringing in accountability.…
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