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Hope to Fix Tracking Issue, But Encryption Stays: WhatsApp

WhatsApp head Will Cathcart has said he is hoping to find solutions to address the government’s traceability concerns on the platform without breaking end-to-end encryption. The statement follows the sweeping changes in India’s IT rules last month. He was talking on a US podcast with journalist Alex Kantrowitz on Friday and was responding to questions on India.

Over the last two years, the Indian government has been insisting that WhatsApp must disclose the source of a viral message on the platform if it triggers violence or is the cause of any other unlawful events. While the Facebook-owned platform has stuck to its stand on maintaining encryption, Cathcart’s comment marks the first time the platform is talking of finding a solution. He did not elaborate on what these potential solutions could look like.

“We have court cases in India fighting on encryption. So, we’ve explained this to the government. We’ve explained why we have concerns about it, we’ll stand up, and continue to explain those concerns. Our hope is that we can find a way to end up with solutions that don’t touch encryption,” he said. The idea of traceability, he said, largely comes due to “concerns over misinformation”.

Cathcart was asked if he would break encryption in India or exit the market in light of the new IT rules. In response, he said the company was still figuring out the exact meaning of the new laws, but he reiterated that WhatsApp will continue to resist breaking encryption. “We’ve been willing to make some really hard calls to defend encryption. If you’re talking about breaking encryption, it’s really hard for me to imagine being comfortable with it,” Cathcart added

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