New Delhi: On Wednesday, a top company executive said as some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of WhatsApp in its current form. With over 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp's biggest market in the world. Globally, the platform has over 1.5 billion users.
Carl Woog, WhatsApp's Head of Communications, on the sidelines of a media workshop state that "Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages,". While Facebook-owned WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption by default which means only the sender and the recipient can see the messages in circulation – not even WhatsApp. Without this feature, Woog explained, WhatsApp will be a completely new product.
Woog, who served as the Spokesperson for the Barack Obama administration in the US said that "The proposed changes are going overboard and are not consistent with strong privacy protections that people around the world are seeking,".
He Further adding that in such a scenario, the messaging service would cease to exist in its current form "Given the end-to-end encryption we have in place, the regulations will require us to re-artchitect our product,". The end-to-end encryption feature makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign. But the proposed IT Ministry regulations require social media platforms to follow a due diligence process to prevent the use of their services for spreading misinformation and provoking violence.
However the accounts which are flagged by users by taking advantage of an in-app "report" feature are reviewed by a team of human workers. When someone reports an account, the WhatsApp team can see the last few messages in the chat. WhatsApp said it was hiring more reviewers with competence in regional languages in India ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.