A professor from IIT, Madras has said it is possible to trace the origin of forwarded messages in what’sApp without compromising on privacy.
Prof V Kamakoti, who is also a member of the National Security Advisory Board and advises the Prime Minister’s Office on security matters, has said this in a technical report to a division bench of the Madras High Court.
The court had asked Prof V Kamakoti, a professor at IIT Madras, to file a report on how to enable traceability of WhatsApp messages. It sought this report from the professor while hearing a PIL petition filed last year seeking interlinking of the Aadhaar database with social media profiles for authentication of identity and to check cyber crimes.
Kamakoti told the court that ‘original’ identification tag can be added to WhatsApp messages without diluting their encryption. This can be done by change the product design to include phone number of the originator of a message whenever it is forwarded. What’s App can do it without reading the users’ message at any stage.
He has contended that whatsApp cannot claim to be a privacy-centred entity when its users can freely forward messages to anyone without consent. The parties to the case include WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Twitter as well as the Union and Tamil Nadu governments.
The case is likely to impact messaging app WhatsApp as it has consistently resisted the government's attempts to enable traceability of messages on its platform. The company claims that WhatsApp messages cannot be traced to the origin because of the encryption.
Last month, the Centre reportedly asked WhatsApp to fingerprint messages to trace their origin. The company refused saying it will violate the privacy of users.