WhatsApp maintains its stand on Indian govt’s demand for message traceability

Agencies
June 18, 2019

New Delhi, Jun 18: Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Tuesday said it has nothing fresh to add to the Indian government's demand to trace the origin of messages on its platform as it "undermined the privacy of the people".

Reacting to an ET story that claimed government officials have asked WhatsApp to digitally fingerprint every message, without breaking its end-to-end encryption, so that the origin of an inauthentic or fake message can be traced, WhatsApp told media: "We have nothing new to add to what we have previously said on this."

Last December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology proposed changes to Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

The proposed regulations require a company to "enable tracing out of originators of information on its platform as required by legally authorised government agencies".

The end-to-end encryption feature in WhatsApp makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign.

The mobile messaging platform has already called the proposed changes "overbroad", saying it undermined the privacy of the people.

"Attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the end-to-end encryption, and its private nature, leading to possibilities of being misused. Our focus is to improve WhatsApp, and working closely with others in society to help keep people safe," a company spokesperson had earlier said.

A top company executive in February stressed that some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of WhatsApp in its current form.

"Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages," Carl Woog, WhatsApp's Head of Communications, had told media.

The Facebook-owned messaging app offers end-to-end encryption by default which means only the sender and the recipient can see the texts in circulation - not even WhatsApp.

Without this feature, Woog explained, WhatsApp will be a completely new product.

With over 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp's biggest market in the world. Globally, the platform has over 1.5 billion users.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Madurai, Jan 14: The renowned bull taming event “Jallikattu” began in Tamil Nadu with traditional fervour and enthusiasm at Avaniyapuram in this district on Thursday.

Minister for Cooperation Sellur K Raju and District Collector T Anbalagan flagged off the event at 0800 hours that will go on till 1600 hours.

It is the first officially permitted Jallikattu event organized as part of the ongoing Pongal festivities in the state.

Official sources said, around 430 tamers and 830 registered bulls were participating in the day-long event.

Former AICC President Rahul Gandhi will watch the Avaniyapuram Jallikattu today -- in what is scheduled to be his first visit to the state ahead of this year’s assembly election as part of the party’s “Rahulin Tamizh Vanakkam” initiative.

Mr Gandhi, who will arrive by a special flight at Madurai from New Delhi this afternoon, will drive straight to the venue.

After witnessing the event for a couple of hours, he will return to the National Capital.

The Congress leader will be accompanied by TNCC president K.S.Alagiri, Congress Legislative Party Leader K.R.Ramasamy and DMK’s youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin and others. Around 2,000 policemen were deployed at the Jallikattu venue under the direct supervision of Commissioner of Police Prem Anand Sinha.

The Jallikattu event is being conducted by ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 safety norms.

Arrangements have been made in the spectators’ gallery to ensure personal distancing. The spectators were allowed after undergoing thermal screening and wearing face masks.

The Palamedu Jallikattu will be held on Friday.

Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam will witness the World-renowned Alanganallur Jallikattu event here on Saturday.

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Agencies
January 9,2021

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New Delhi, Jan 9: As WhatsApp teases users to either give their consent to sharing data with Facebook or lose their accounts after February 8, rival Telegram's Founder and CEO Pavel Durov on Saturday slammed the social media giant, saying it is no surprise that the flight of users from WhatsApp to Telegram, already ongoing for a few years, has accelerated.

According to Durov, Facebook has an entire department devoted to figuring out why Telegram is so popular.

"Imagine dozens of employees working on just that full-time. I am happy to save Facebook tens of millions of dollars and give away our secret for free: respect your users," he said in a statement.

At about 500 million users and growing, Telegram has become a major problem for the Facebook corporation.

"Unable to compete with Telegram in quality and privacy, Facebook's WhatsApp seems to have switched to covert marketing: Wikipedia editors have recently exposed multiple paid bots adding biased information into the WhatsApp Wikipedia article," Durov claimed.

"We have also detected bots which spread inaccurate information about Telegram on social media".

Millions of people are outraged by the latest change in WhatsApp Terms, which now say users must feed all their private data to Facebook's ad engine.

In 2019 alone, Facebook spent almost $10 billion on marketing.

Durov said that unlike Facebook, Telegram doesn't spend any money, let alone billions of dollars, on marketing.

"We believe that people are smart enough to choose what is best for them. And, judging by the half a billion people using Telegram, this belief is justified," he said.

Not just Telegram but another encrypted messaging app Signal has seen a surge in new sign ins after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk vouched for it.

"Verification codes are currently delayed across several providers because so many new people are trying to join Signal right now (we can barely register our excitement). We are working with carriers to resolve this as quickly as possible. Hang in there," Signal tweeted.

"Everyone should be able to register without delay again. Thanks to all of the carriers who flipped the right switches so that people can keep switching," the company further said.

Over 400 million Indian WhatsApp users this week received an in-app notification from WhatsApp as part of an upcoming global roll-out for over 2 billion users, asking them to either accept the changes in its Terms of Service and privacy policy by February 8 or their accounts will be deleted.

The in-app notification did not elicit much details but clicking on the links clearly mentioned the key changes in how WhatsApp will collect and process users' information going forward, and the partnership with Facebook, its parent company, as part of a larger unification drive between the family of apps.

To recall, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in October said that the company is working hard to merge Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp so that they can start to function a little bit more like one connected interoperable system.

In a bid to allow cross-messaging among its family of apps, Facebook has reportedly started merging Instagram and Messenger chats. The social network has already integrated Messenger rooms with WhatsApp on the Web.

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Fred
 - 
Sunday, 10 Jan 2021

People are now becoming interested in their privacy and it is a good signal for what comes into other sectors especially the world of finance. The surge in the use of Bitcoin and crypto of late could be also attributed to the taste people are developing for privacy. Even in Bitcoin, tools like Bitcoinmix and others are also recording spiking usage, all for privacy. Many people are now becoming woke.

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Agencies
January 6,2021

Mumbai, Jan 6: Facebook-owned WhatsApp has released the new 'Terms of Service' and also updated the user-privacy policy for both Android and iOS messenger versions.

The new policy will go into effect from February 8, 2021, and if the users are not satisfied with the terms offered by the company, they will have no choice but to uninstall the messaging application.

"Our updated Terms and Privacy Policy provide more information on how we process your data and our commitment to privacy. For example, we’ve added more information about more recent product features and functionalities, how we process your data for safety, security, and integrity, and added more direct links to user settings, Help Center articles and how you can manage your information," said the company.

Also, it noted that WhatsApp may store the data temporarily under encryption on their server if the multimedia content sent from person  A to B within WhatsApp for efficient delivery service, where the user may use the same data to forward to others.

Also, if the user makes a transaction on the recently launched WhatsApp Pay, the company says it processes details of the user, including payment account and transaction information. 

"Payment account and transaction information include information needed to complete the transaction (for example, information about your payment method, shipping details, and transaction amount). If you use our payments services available in your country or territory, our privacy practices are described in the applicable payments privacy policy," the company noted.

WhatsApp is part of Facebook companies, so it will receive information from, and shares data with the latter such as account registration information (phone number), transaction data, service-related information, information on how users interact with others (including businesses) when using the services, mobile device information, your IP address, and may include other information identified in the Privacy Policy section entitled ‘Information We Collect’ or obtained upon notice to you or based on your consent.the other Facebook companies. "We may use the information we receive from them, and they may use the information we share with them, to help operate, provide, improve, understand, customize, support, and market our Services and their offerings, including the Facebook companies--WhatsApp, Oculus Products (when using an Oculus account), and CrowdTangle websites, products, or apps' the company added.

Add to that WhatsApp will collect device and connection-specific information when the user installs, access, or access its services. This includes information such as hardware model, operating system information, battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP), language and time zone, IP address, device operations information, and identifiers (including identifiers unique to Facebook Company Products associated with the same device or account).

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