WhatsApp security flaw from legal point of view
Any security flaw if accessible to those with the mensrea to exploit it will be potentially detrimental to consumers and enterprises. These apparent Whatsapp vulnerabilities could permit malicious actors to spread fake news or put words in chats that victims never really said.
Imagine someone alters a Whatsapp chat to hurt communal sentiments or to implicate someone falsely. There is potential for this to be misused. From a legal point of view, this could be dangerous in India, keeping the current evidence procedures in mind and large scale usage of Whatsapp chats as evidence. More needs to be explored on this, but these bugs could find their ways into Indian Courts of Law. The current standard evidence procedures may need to be updated with these flaws and methods to exploit them now being possibly accessible to everyone.
One must not forget - there are several fake WhatsApp chat generators available that have very similar end-results that some malicious agents may want. However, from a legal evidence point of view, a Court of Law in India would most likely know these screenshots are fake.
Whatsapp seems to have known about some of these flaws for a while but hasn't pushed out the fixes. An official Facebook response compared these bugs to altering an email thread to change someone's words. Technologically, it makes sense that the chats are end-to-end encrypted and Facebook may feel like it cannot do much here as the exploit is coming from within one of the users' phones.
The primary advice for consumers here is - do not believe everything you see in images (screenshots) and chats. Trust, but verify if it is a sensitive matter.
By Farrhad Acidwalla, Founder, Cybernetiv Digital