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Is WhatsApp a threat to India's security? - Daily News Egypt

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Is WhatsApp a threat to India’s security?

With little support from his government or people, one Indian activist is challenging the popular messaging app's use of encryption. Though the Supreme Court just dismissed his case, he is determined to push on.

With little support from his government or people, one Indian activist is challenging the popular messaging app’s use of encryption. Though the Supreme Court just dismissed his case, he is determined to push on.
Like 70 million other people in India, Sudhir Yadav uses WhatsApp – we even set up our meeting through it – even though he believes it poses a great danger. He is concerned about WhatsApp’s recent decision to encrypt its users’ messages from end-to-end, which means that everyone, terrorists included, can use it to communicate undisturbed. Not even WhatsApp itself – or its powerful parent company Facebook – can access what has been sent.

For law enforcement to crack the code itself, the 27-year-old software engineer explained, an unfathomable number of calculations – even for a supercomputer – would be needed.

“I would like the Indian government to make the messaging service save the key to decode chat records,” he said, “in order to ensure national security.”

Yadav recently took this plea to the country’s Supreme Court, with some believing the case could lead to a ban of the app. But the court dismissed the petition on Wednesday, recommending that Yadav pressure the executive instead.

After the ruling, he said he would try to get into contact with India’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, though Yadav has tried two times before without a response. If this fails for a third time, he plans to turn to a High Court, a rung below the Supreme Court.

Governments worldwide are dealing with the WhatsApp’s decision in favor of encryption, which has grown common amidst widespread fears that technology poses a threat to privacy. It has proved a difficult balancing act. Last month, a judge in Brazil ruled to block WhatsApp for three days, in an attempt to pressure the chat service to turn over data about suspected drug traders to authorities. The next day, a court granted an appeal to lift the ban.

When it comes to combating terrorism, blocking a messaging service wouldn’t be enough to safeguard national security, believes Srinath Raghavan from the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. Terrorists adapt as technology develops. “Our smartphones offer so many possibilities for communication, so terrorists don’t have to use end-to-end encryption in the first place,” he said.

With talk of a potential WhatsApp ban, Yadav’s crusade certainly won’t win him much popular support.

More than a billion people in 109 countries use WhatsApp per month.

Topics: WhatsApp

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  • indian

    whatsup groups with more than 50 or 100 users should not be allowed, as the politicians , religious organisations, are using it to share their agenda to large crowd

    • Iyer speaks

      You cannot stop technology. Must learn to live with it.

      • indian

        we are not stopping technology… nobody in groups will or need to talk to 10000 or 1lakhs people … so the reason for those groups are to only pass info, or spread hatred…. friendship groups or company groups are always smaller like 10 or 50 or 100 max!!

  • Iyer speaks

    The problem is more fundamental.

    Its not difficult for any group to hire a programmer to develop a end to end encryption. A p-to-p ssh gives this directly. This compounded with onion protocol makes it even more difficult to trace the route. For each of these, the decryption is extremely difficult.

    The solution of saving the key / making the tapping of messages makes only the communication of common public, who still use whats app(say) more vulnerable, without causing any problem what so ever for terrorists who use better technology.

    This being said, the most important moral to draw is that going forwards, the capability of sniffing into conversation phone/whats app/emails or any mode will not be possible, and intelligence gathering must find other ways to defend.

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