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IIT Madras’s Kamakoti tells MediaNama how WhatsApp traceability is possible without undermining end-to-end encryption

By Aditi Agrawal and Nikhil Pahwa "WhatsApp remains the same. Their end-to-end encryption remains the same. There’s nothing that we want to change. There’s nothing that warrants the change." Dr V. Kamakoti, a computer science professor at IIT Madras, is clear about this. In the last two hearings (on June 27 and July 24) of the case, in which the Madras High Court is deliberating on how the originator of a message on WhatsApp can be traced, Kamakoti’s initial submission has heavily featured in the judges’ opinion of whether traceability is technically possible. His suggestions on traceability to the Madras High Court, however, had Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, WhatsApp's counsel in the case, practically palpitating at the last hearing, "If you open up the encryption, there is no platform." A member of the National Security Advisory Board, which operates under the PMO, Kamakoti became a part of this case when the Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu government, Dr Girija Vaidyanathan, at the behest of the court order dated April 25, had convened a meeting between social media companies and law enforcement agencies on May 22. At the last hearing, Justices S. Manikumar and Subramonium directed the professor to make a formal submission (which he did on July 31, available below) and told WhatsApp to respond to it (by August 14). MediaNama spoke to Dr Kamakoti to understand the submission that he has made and what he thinks of the privacy related concerns: Dr Kamakoti’s submission to the court: Consent-based forwarding…

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Send me tips at aditi@medianama.com. Email for Signal/WhatsApp.

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