WhatsApp's encrypted messages can be traced: IIT professor

Science

12 Jul 2019

Tracing WhatsApp messages possible without compromising end-to-end encryption: IIT professor

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption feature has been a contentious issue between the government of India and the messaging platform over concerns related to traceability of messages. However, we might soon see an end to this tussle.

An IIT professor has said that it is possible to trace WhatsApp messages without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

Here's more on what he said.

IIT-M professor challenges WhatsApp on the issue of message traceability

"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, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras in a lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs.

Technicality

Here's the solution proposed by Prof. Kamakoti

When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the contents of the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient, claimed Prof. Kamakoti, adding that "when that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient."

He noted that in this manner, messages can be made traceable without breaking end-to-end encryption and infringing user privacy.

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WhatsApp hasn't yet responded to claims made by Prof. Kamakoti

To note, there is not enough technical clarity on how Prof. Kamakoti proposes to trace messages. Meanwhile, till the time of writing this article, WhatsApp had not responded to the claims made by the IIT professor.

Fake news

Meanwhile, here's understanding why end-to-end encryption is a concern

Meanwhile, here's understanding why end-to-end encryption is a concern

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption is a default feature that secures each message with a unique cryptographic lock and allows only the recipient to read the message.

With this, the message and the identity of the sender remain unknown to all, including hackers, governments, and even WhatsApp.

Hence, given the rise of fake news, India has been pressing on the need for traceability of WhatsApp messages.

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