WhatsApp, Government, Traceability – Who is lying?

In a country like India, people easily believe malicious rumours. Often, these rumours whip up mob hysteria and we have mobs doing all kinds of things- lynching someone, parading someone naked, rioting, arson, destroying property and more.

Whatsapp is not only increasing the number of such rumours but also accelerating their spread and a hydra headed monster of mob violence is making itself felt all over the country. People are getting killed.

The solution obviously is not to ban WhatsApp. The solution is to create a mechanism to identify the originators of these rumours and make an example of them. Arrest them and ensure justice.

Every society has a written law and the law acts as a deterrent to crime. However, the law is emasculated and rendered ineffective by WhatsApp’s refusal to share the identity of the originator of the rumour with the enforcers of the law – the police, the courts, the government.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently said that he was successful in getting WhatsApp to agree to implement traceability. He confirmed to me on a LinkedIn message exchange that this is the case. The picture on this page is a screenshot of the exchange.

Today, I read news reports that this is not true. And that WhatsApp has REFUSED the Indian Government’s request to implement traceability.  A couple of news report examples are here and here.

Now who has got it wrong? Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad or the Press?

I would like to see a formal announcement by the minister or his ministry telling us what exactly WhatsApp has agreed to.

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