Law agencies should have access to source of social media messages spreading rumour: Ravi Shankar Prasad

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New Delhi | Published: October 15, 2019 3:50:32 AM

The issue of traceability was discussed in detail between WhatsApp and the government in July this year when the messaging app’s global head Will Cathcart came to meet Prasad.

social media messages rumour, fake viral messages, fake news, social media fake news, mobile india congress 2019, Ravi Shankar PrasadTelecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at the India Mobile Congress in New Delhi on Monday(PTI)

Reiterating its stand on traceability, communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said India respects encryption but law enforcement agencies should be able locate source of messages that are being used to spread rumours.

The minister said even countries such as the US, the UK and Australia have echoed India’s point of view. “I am happy that US, UK and Australia have also echoed the same concerns as India had raised with respect to traceability of encrypted messages through social media,” Prasad said.

The issue of traceability of messages has been a bone of contention between Facebook-owned WhatsApp and government. The minister said when a same message is being relayed repeatedly at same time, same area and on same issue to create chaos and spread false rumours, law enforcement agencies must have access. “…Source of nuisance must be identified to deal with circulation of false rumours in such cases,” he said at the India Mobile Congress.

The issue of traceability was discussed in detail between WhatsApp and the government in July this year when the messaging app’s global head Will Cathcart came to meet Prasad. During the meeting, Prasad had specifically asked Cathcart that the grievance officer for WhatsApp should be based in India and traceability should be their job.

WhatsApp had received several warnings and notices from the government over the spread of fake news. The firm had earlier expressed its inability to trace the origin of messages citing privacy of consumers, thereby triggering a controversy.

The government made it clear to the American company that platforms such as WhatsApp cannot run away from their responsibility of checking the menace of fake news by citing privacy an excuse.

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