Pros and Cons of Free Messaging Services
While the Indian government was busy censoring content on social media, they forgot about messaging services like WhatsApp and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).
According to a report in the Indian Express, rioters used WhatsApp to spread the video that might have been added to the already existing communal disturbance in Muzaffarnagar.
Actual Cause of Violence
The differences between the communities of the Jats and the Muslims have always existed in the area of Muzaffarnagar, but things became worse on August 27, after a girl was eve teased by some Muslim boys. This incident of eve teasing led to the killing of three youngsters, one from the Muslim community and the other two from the Jat community. Subsequently the situation went out of control and people started firing at each other.
The Rise of the Video
Things became even worse when a video about two boys being allegedly lynched was doing the rounds on the Internet. After some investigation, police officials in Uttar Pradesh found that the video was two years old and was either recorded in Afghanistan or Pakistan. While they blocked the video on Youtube, the damage had already been done. People had already downloaded it on their phones and it was now being circulated via WhatsApp and BBM.
According to the report, even the officials were taken aback because they never expected so many people to have internet and WhatsApp on their mobiles. Inspector Vishwakarma said, “The video surfaced on August 29 and day later we had blocked in on the Internet. However it was passed on from phone to phone through WhatsApp and within a few days, thousands of people had viewed it. This only served to inflame sentiments.”
Messaging Apps Used In Spot Fixing
You will be surprised to know that this is not the first time a messaging application has been used to instigate a riot. And why just riots, it is rumored that WhatsApp and BBM were used by Sreesanth and the bookies to communicate with each other. Times Now reported that around 70 phones were used by the players and the bookies, and it was while tracking these messaging applications that the police came to know of Sreesanth’s involvement in spot fixing.
And the reason why people use WhatsApp and BBM for their illegal activities is because these apps are believed to be more secured than a regular text message. And while it is difficult to keep a track on these apps, it’s not completely impossible. Because messages sent through these apps are encrypted and can be accessed outside the network of service providers. And this can be done based on the way these apps are built.
BBM vs WhatsApp: Security Issues
Technically speaking, it’s easier to keep a tab on BBM users, as they are registered under a unique pin number (BBM pin) which is connected to the official website. And since WhatsApp users are registered with their phone numbers, there is a high risk of hacking. Several claims have been made about how the Android version of WhatsApp is vulnerable, thus highlighting a security risk for all Android users.
Keeping these facts in mind, last year, an industrial research centre conducted a study to evaluate the security of these messaging apps. According to this study there are very high chances of impersonation attacks on WhatsApp. By that I mean, that a hacker can not only register himself with our original phone numbers but even use our name to send spam messages.
BBM Instigates London Riot
It’s clearly evident from the facts above that BBM is more secure than WhatsApp and here is an example to validate my point. In the year 2001, BBM was what was used by rioters to organize a riot in London. But since BBM was compatible with the UK legislation, the authorities were able to catch and punish the rioters.
The same procedure has recently been implemented in India, after months of struggle. The team at BlackBerry has finally deciphered a system (keeping the security reasons in mind) which will allow the government to lawfully tap into the user’s messages.
BlackBerry Has An Advantage Over WhatsApp
So if the Indian government decides to gets tough with WhatsApp, keeping in mind the Muzaffarnagar riots, BlackBerry sure has an advantage over it.
One, because it will finally be able to see eye to eye with the Indian government; and two, people can bank on BBM which is expected to be released on both Android and iOS soon.
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that none of the messages that we send through these apps are secure and that’s something we all need to worry about. And since these messaging applications have been used for the wrong means, it is sure to create debates around mobile security and privacy.
So should the government put an end to WhatsApp or should the app developers increase the security for users? Write your opinion in the comment box below!
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