India government meets with WhatsApp over tracing of fake news: source

Indian tech ministry officials met with senior WhatsApp executives this week to ask the Facebook Inc unit to start tracing the origins of misinformation spread through its messaging platform, a senior government official said on Friday.

WhatsApp has been working to curb the circulation of what technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad termed “sinister” content in India, the firm’s biggest market where it boasts over 220 million users.

Such misinformation has led to the lynching of over 30 people since January last year, according to data portal IndiaSpend, prompting Prasad to call on WhatsApp to trace its origins.
WhatsApp has previously declined to trace the origin of messages, citing security issues.

“We have been asking them for traceability,” said the official at the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, declining to be identified as the meeting was private. “They (WhatsApp) are non-committal on it but we are forcing this issue.”

WhatsApp was represented by Director & Associate General Counsel Brian Hennessy and one other executive, and said it was working on measures to prevent the spread of misinformation, according to the official.

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