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Exclusive: Government wants software that can decrypt WhatsApp database to train cops

The tender lists software specifications that could allow cybercops to recover passwords and access cloud data source tokens.

You are reading it here first: The Indian government is looking to acquire software and equipment that can, among other things, decrypt encrypted databases of platforms like WhatsApp in order to train state police officials on how to conduct 'a cyber forensic investigation'. The proposal is included in a tender (a copy of which MediaNama has seen) floated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) as its National e-Governance Division (NeGD) plans to set up a Cyber Forensic Lab at the National Law University, Bhopal. A look at the tender shows that the NeGD has laid down several provisions that is expected to secure 'confidential information' emerging out of the forensic labs. For instance, the "IA cannot disclose confidential information to third parties". However, the software and equipment that it will be procuring for training cops, raises privacy concerns — The NeGD is looking to acquire a mobile phone forensic system that extracts cloud data source tokens accessed by mobile phones "with or without consent". The system should be compatible with 31,110 device profiles. The NeGD also said that certain equipment should be able to decrypt encrypted platforms and their databases. The agency has also separately stated its requirement for a system that can decrypt WhatsApp, the highest-used encrypted messaging platform in India. Physical extraction of major device support should at atleast (sic) support: Installed applications data: WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk (Gtalk), UberSocial (WhatsApp data retrieval includes decryption of the database and recovery of contacts, chats, chat…

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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