Government of India is all set to tighten the rule for Social Media usage and may come up with the penalties including Jail term for Social Media Managers/owners of account in new rules. The new guidelines are seen as the solution as multiple discussions with WhatsApp have not yielded results.
The intermediary guidelines should be out soon after elections and we expect all social media apps to comply with them,” a senior government official said. “In the guidelines, we are writing that encryption should be such that it should support traceability.”
There are many apps like Whatsapp which have resisted the law enforcement agencies to trace the origin of inflammatory messages or those related to illegal activities such as drug use or trafficking, according to the officials.
Whatsapp in response replied to the government new rule and said that “People rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of sensitive conversations, including with their doctors, banks and families. The police also use WhatsApp to discuss investigations and report crimes. Attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp creating the potential for serious misuse. Our focus is on improving WhatsApp and working closer with others in society to help keep people safe,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
The intermediary guidelines for internet and social media companies such as WhatsApp and Facebook have assumed critical importance with the government seeking to crack down on fake news and rumors that have fueled violence, including lynchings, in parts of the country. The consultation process is over and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) is working on the final rules.
Last year’s draft recommendations proposed that all intermediaries would have to hand over to government agencies any information related to cyber security, national security, investigations, prosecutions or prevention of an offence within 72 hours.
Internet and social media companies will also have to take down or disable content considered defamatory or against national security under Article 19 (2) within 24 hours on being notified by the appropriate agency in addition to using automated tools to identify, remove and trace the origin of such content.