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Kamakoti’s proposals will erode user privacy, says IIT Bombay expert in IFF submission

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Dr V. Kamakoti's proposals to enable traceability in WhatsApp will instead erode users' privacy, says Dr Manoj Prabhakaran, a computer science professor at IIT Bombay, who submitted his expert analysis on behalf of Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) to the Madras High Court. He has said that traceability will not be an effective means of fighting fake news. Even with modifications to Kamakoti's proposals, they are not very effective. Fact-checking, filtering spam, and media literacy are far more effective alternatives, as per Prabhakaran. Submission by Dr Manoj Prabhakaran, IIT Bombay for IFFMediaNama readers might recall that Dr V. Kamakoti, in his technical submission made on July 31, had made two proposals: Make the originator’s number visible to all recipients; or Encrypt the sender’s phone number in the metadata of the message that can be decrypted only by WhatsApp, using a key held in escrow, after relevant court orders are produced by the law enforcement agencies In his submission for IFF, Prabhakaran has argued that these proposals, even with modifications that he himself suggests (given below), are not very effective because: Phone number has little identification value: The only originator information used is a phone number which can be easily acquired anonymously, or via services such as Google Voice, Skype, and Viber. Finding originator of the message may not be very valuable: When one hires thousands of workers to serve as originators, the employers remain untraceable. It will spur commercial services for untraceable messaging Traceability is not really a deterrent: Given the…

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