• Monday, November 28, 2022

INDIA

WhatsApp files lawsuit against India’s new guidelines for social media

WhatsApp logo (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images).

By: Shilpa Sharma

May 26, 2021

WHATSAPP has filed a lawsuit on Tuesday (25) against guidelines introduced by the Indian government that would break its privacy guarantees.

The lawsuit has been filed in Delhi High Court and is likely to be taken up for consideration today (26).

WhatsApp did not give details of the legal action, but made clear its opposition to the new guidelines that would also affect Twitter, Instagram and other platforms.

The new guidelines have come at a time of growing tensions between social media giants and the Indian government, which has demanded tech companies remove content critical of prime minister Narendra Modi.

Under the new rules, ministers are demanding “traceability” of messages, which requires social media companies to give details of the “first originator” of posts deemed to undermine India’s sovereignty, state security or public order.

They also require platforms to remove posts depicting nudity or manipulated photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

“Requiring messaging apps to ‘trace’ chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

The Facebook subsidiary, which has 500 million users in India, said it would keep cooperating with “valid legal requests” for information from authorities.

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google have said they are working towards complying with the guidelines.

The Indian government has said it wants rules that make social media companies more accountable and stop the spread of “fake news”.

Earlier this week, police visited Twitter’s offices in New Delhi as part of an investigation into the company’s move to mark a tweet by a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as “manipulated media”.

Last month, the government had ordered Twitter and Facebook to remove dozens of posts critical of Modi’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Twitter had earlier agreed to a government request to ban some accounts that criticised new agricultural laws, however, it reversed the ban in February.

Eastern Eye

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