Privacy and security concerns as spam calls onWhatsApp prompt the Government to react in India
WhatsApp responds to the Government of India’s concerns over spurt in international spam calls and messages over the platform
“WhatsApp calls from international numbers can be dangerous: How to stay safe” reads the front page of the Times of India. (2)
All across India in May, Mobile phone users received warning SMS messages either from their telecom operator or from their bank after there was a massive spurt in international scam calls and messages over WhatsApp. The calls were from random numbers with country codes ranging from Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kenya and Ethiopia, and a few from the USA. The media in India carried reports of these spam calls and messages forcing a junior minister in the Government of India in the Ministry of Information Technology, Mr. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, to react. The Minister said he would seek a response from WhatsApp as the onus on ensuring user safety and privacy was with the digital platform
WhatsApp spam calls controversy
How were WhatsApp users identified and accessed to begin with? Were databases or bots leveraged in order to do this? These questions grew as focal points of the WhatsApp Spam calls controversy.
Most of the spam calls offered jobs, which were fraudulent, and asked the users to connect through other messaging platforms such as Telegram.(2)
WhatsApp users took to another social media platform, Twitter, to highlight the issue. WhatsApp responded by stating that it would apply spam detection technology to spot and act on accounts engaging in abnormal behavior to stop the spam calls. WhatsApp also said it had ramped up its artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to bring down international spam calls significantly.
Media reports pointed out that although the spam calls and messages carried the country codes of the numbers from which they originated, the calls could have been made from any part of the world, as WhatsApp calls are made over the Internet. There are agencies that sell international numbers for these calls in different cities.
The Government of India’s concern over these spam calls stemmed from the fact that it was readying a Digital Personal Data Protection legislation, the draft of which has been circulated for public reactions and comments.
FinTech in India’s concern of WhatsApp spam calls
Further, India is one of the largest and fastest-growing markets for digital financial transactions, which have increased significantly over the last five years. During this period, various convenient digital payment modes such as the Bharat Interface for Money – Unified Payments Interface (BHIM-UPI) and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) have grown appreciably. The digital payment ecosystem has been transformed through increasing person-to-person and person-to-merchant transactions. These have helped in financial inclusion – bringing the un-banked and the under-banked sections of the population into the formal financial system, so much so that even a large number of hawkers and vendors on the roadside now accept digital payments, where a customer can pay the money by scanning a QR code on his mobile phone and the money gets transferred into the hawker’s account within a few seconds.
Apart from a handful of financial technology start-ups from India, global companies such as Google and even Meta-owned WhatsApp have launched digital payment features. With digital financial transactions increasing, it is even more important to employ technologies that will cut these spam calls that scammers continuously improvise to find new methods to cheat gullible people. The onus on telecom companies and digital platforms such as WhatsApp to ensure the safety and security of its users is paramount.
WhatsApp Business Account with MultiLine
Unfortunately, if someone is earnestly trying to start a business, their WhatsApp communication might be affected by the Meta crackdowns. This is leaving genuine businesses unable to use WhatsApp unless they have a verified Business Account.
Movius set up a business to connect their verified WhatsApp Business account with MultiLine numbers. When end users chat with MultiLine users using WhatsApp, they will know they’re speaking to the business they intend to because the account is verified by Meta. This solves the unintended suppression which a crackdown might cause.
Because Movius has implemented our solution through official channels, any security measures which WhatsApp implements to prevent illegal behavior will not prevent our business or the businesses who use MultiLine by Movius’s WhatsApp connector from continuing to use the service.
Learn more https://help.moviuscorp.com/help/spam-faq