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WhatsApp Chats Can be Read Sans Breaking Encryption: IIT Professor

The popular messaging app has been repeatedly ask to break its encryption layer to help with tracing messages.

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With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, a member of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) has stressed that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

"If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible," said V. Kamakoti, while delivering a lecture at Indian Council of World Affairs here on Wednesday.

The National Security Advisory Board advises the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on security matters.

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When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message. So the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient. When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient
V. Kamakoti, Professor, Indian Institute of Technology-Madras

The NSAB member added that as per court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases.

"In this way, you do not need to break end-to-end encryption and infringe the privacy of anyone and yet make the messages traceable when the investigating agencies want to find out. And this is what we have projected to WhatsApp," he said.

India started pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages after several lynching cases last year were linked to rumours spread on the messaging service.

WhatsApp has maintained that allowing traceability will dilute its end-to-end encryption which ensures that only the sender of the message and the recipient can see the message - not even WhatsApp itself.

Kamakoti made the remarks while giving a lecture on "5G Technology from Indian Perspective" which was attended by several officials from the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, among others.

"The primary concern in 5G roll out is security. 5G is important because of the scale of impact it can have on the economy and human life in general," said Kamakoti.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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