The Centre on Wednesday refuted reports that claimed it had asked messaging service WhatsApp to decrypt texts sent using its platform, PTI reported. The government clarified that it had asked the technology company to share with law-enforcement agencies the location and identity of those misusing the service to spread fake news and trigger violence.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad stressed that the government wants to the “institutional integrity” of the platform to remain intact, particularly ahead of the elections. He made the remarks to reporters after meeting WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Chris Daniels.

In his meeting with Daniels in August, Prasad had advised WhatsApp to appoint a grievance officer in the country. “I have suggested that we will appreciate if grievance officer is also located in India,” Prasad said on Wednesday. The Centre wants to “prevent circulation of spam farms”, he added.

“We insist rather on location and identification of the sender of WhatsApp messages when such messages lead to provocation of violence, heinous offences and other serious crimes,” the minister said. The company has assured the Centre that it would look into the matter and appoint a grievance officer, he added.

In the past few months, the government has criticised WhatsApp after fake news and rumours circulated on its messaging platform triggered a spate of mob lynchings across the country and claimed several lives.