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Business News/ Technology / App News/  WhatsApp to remove mobile nos used for fraud: Vaishnaw
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WhatsApp to remove mobile nos used for fraud: Vaishnaw

Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has agreed to deregister mobile numbers from its messaging service that have been detected as acting to commit fraud, and whose mobile services had already been disconnected, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday

Consumers will also be able to block the use of their mobile phones in case they get lost or are stolen, through a web portal called Sanchar Saathi. (Photo: Bloomberg)Premium
Consumers will also be able to block the use of their mobile phones in case they get lost or are stolen, through a web portal called Sanchar Saathi. (Photo: Bloomberg)

NEW DELHI : Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp has agreed to deregister mobile numbers from its messaging service that have been detected as acting to commit fraud, and whose mobile services had already been disconnected, telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday.

“We have actively engaged with WhatsApp and they have agreed that yes, customer safety is most important, and they are absolutely on board to deregister the users which have been detected as fraud users," the minister, responding to a query on steps taken by the government to stop scammers calling from so-called international numbers on WhatsApp aiming to defraud unsuspecting consumers.

He said the government was also in conversations with other messaging platforms such as Telegram to remove fraudulent users.

In response to the comment from the minister, Whatsapp said in a statement on Tuesday that the platform was engaging with the government to resolve the issue.

“We have been actively engaging with the government to consistently ensure a safe and secure user experience, including weeding out bad-actors from the platform. WhatsApp is a leader among end-to-end encrypted services in protecting user safety and we continue to provide several in-built safety tools like Block & Report, Two-step verification, among others, along with regularly driving user safety education and awareness," it said.

The minister was speaking at the launch of a three-pronged customer-facing sectoral reform, one of which includes enabling consumers to know the number of connections a customer has linked to his or her identity.

Consumers will also be able to block the use of their mobile phones in case they get lost or are stolen, through a web portal called Sanchar Saathi. The service is backed by the Central Equipment Identity Register.

The government also introduced ASTR or Artificial Intelligence and Facial Recognition-powered solution for telecom SIM subscriber verification, to identify fraudulent subscribers.

Vaishnaw said various frauds such as identity theft, forged know your customer (KYC) and banking frauds can take place by misusing mobile phones, and that the portal has been developed to prevent such frauds. He said the solutions were in accordance with the privacy guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court judgements and will be in accordance with the provisions that are laid down in subsequent privacy laws. India is also working on a digital personal data protection law.

“In these three reforms, we have created a proper legal regulatory procedure by which the mobile phones which are either lost or stolen can actually be disabled," the minister said, adding that the new telecom bill, which is currently in the draft stage, will be finalized by July after taking into consideration views of all stakeholders, and it will have enabling provisions to protect consumers. He said user safety is also an important part of the draft telecom bill. By using Sanchar Saathi portal, more than 4 million fraudulent connections have been identified and more than 3.6 million such connections have been disconnected so far. Vaishnaw said the reforms will be reviewed after six months or a year.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gulveen Aulakh
Gulveen covers both corporate and economy, and policy sections of Mint. She also covers telecom, IT from the corporate side and disinvestment, finance ministry from the economy side. Gulveen finds the rare mix of sectors she covers to be incredibly interesting.
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Published: 16 May 2023, 10:48 PM IST
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