Indian government asks WhatsApp for help in tackling ‘deepfakes’ ahead of 2024 elections, Meta raises privacy concerns

WhatsApp, owned by Meta, is a widely used messaging app in India. However, during election times it can sometimes be used to spread fake videos and unsolicited messages. In preparation for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Indian government is considering introducing a law that would require WhatsApp to disclose who sent the first message to combat the spread of fake videos on the platform.

In its response, the instant messaging platform reportedly stated that this could compromise users’ privacy as the company does not have access to the conversations between two people.

According to a report by The Indian Express, WhatsApp is asking for information about who originally sent messages due to the issue of fake videos of politicians that are often shared on the platform. The government can also require the company to disclose the identity of those who share such videos for the first time, according to the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021.

“It’s not about partisanship. The videos in question showed deepfakes of politicians from various political parties. We have been made aware of such fake videos from politicians across the political spectrum, which we believe can harm electoral integrity in India. Therefore, we plan to send an initial sender notification on WhatsApp,” a government official told Indian Express.

In 2021, WhatsApp and Facebook had appealed against this regulation in the Delhi High Court. They argued that this could compromise the privacy of their users and potentially lead to widespread surveillance.

In contrast, the government maintains that this rule will not affect the regular use of WhatsApp for everyday users.

Meanwhile, according to WABetaInfo, WhatsApp is ready to roll out the update to Android update beta users. Previously, the instant messaging platform announced that it was working on a new group chat feature as a reminder system for community chats.

This update is initially available to a limited number of beta users and includes revamped icons that increase the overall appeal of the platform. Additionally, WhatsApp is updating the theme color for both dark and light modes, including chat bubbles and floating action buttons.

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Sybil Alvarez

"Incurable gamer. Infuriatingly humble coffee specialist. Professional music advocate."

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