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Digital rights body IFF files IIT-B Prof submission saying traceability on WhatsApp vulnerable to falsification

The submissions are part of the ongoing hearing in the Madras High Court regarding a PIL which originally sought to link social media accounts of users to their Aadhaar number

, ET Bureau|
Aug 25, 2019, 01.59 PM IST
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IFF urged the Court to refrain from venturing into highly complex and technical decisions regarding the change of the design of an encrypted platform like WhatsApp.
BENGALURU: Digital rights organisation Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) filed an independent expert submission by an IIT-Bombay Professor Manoj Prabhakaran in the Madras High Court against IIT-Madras Professor Veezhinathan Kamakoti’s suggestions on introducing traceability on WhatsApp.

Prabhakaran submission highlighted the risks and long term ineffectiveness of Kamakoti's proposal to introduce traceability on encrypted platforms. He said Kamakoti’s suggestions were vulnerable to falsification and tweaking encryption through backdoor will undermine user privacy and security.

In July, Kamakoti suggested two ways to identify the originator of messages on WhatsApp to help law enforcement agencies in India catch perpetrators of misinformation and rumours. IFF said accepting Kamakoti's suggestion will a grave impact on whistleblowers, journalists, activists, and others who can face violence if their identity is exposed.

The submissions are part of the ongoing hearing in the Madras High Court regarding a PIL which originally sought to link social media accounts of users to their Aadhaar number. On Wednesday, Madras High Court clarified that it was no longer considering the original prayer to link Aadhaar with social media accounts, and instead, its focus was now on improving coordination between law enforcement agencies and social media companies.

IFF urged the Court to refrain from venturing into highly complex and technical decisions regarding the change of the design of an encrypted platform like WhatsApp. It said such decisions should only be taken after a deliberative policy formation process involving experts and stakeholders.

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