Le­gal­ity of Move Ques­tion­able

The Economic Times - - Econ­omy & Com­pa­nies -

Ex­perts say the le­gal­ity of such a di­rec­tive is ques­tion­able, but even more wor­ri­some is how the gov­ern­ment plans to “look at” con­ver­sa­tions among cit­i­zens on What­sApp.

“This is im­prac­ti­cal and will be very dif­fi­cult to mon­i­tor and is short of a dystopic sys­tem that en­cour­ages cit­i­zens to spy on each other. Even if What­sApp is shut down, other ap­pli­ca­tions will take its place,” said Chin­mayi Arun, ED, Cen­tre for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Gov­er­nance, Na­tional Law Univer­sity, Delhi.

While the cir­cu­lars do not clar­ify how the con­ver­sa­tions will be mon­i­tored, the only fea­si­ble way to do it is if a district mag­is­trate or a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial is added to ev­ery ex­ist­ing What­sApp group. Be­sides, if an ad­min ex­its a group, What­sApp ran­domly as­signs ad­min sta­tus to any one of the group mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to What­sApp’s terms of ser­vice. “Ergo, merely your pres­ence in a group can im­pli­cate you for con­tent posted by others. This shows lack of un­der­stand­ing on how apps work or law ap­plies to such sit­u­a­tions,” added SFLC’s Choud­hary.

How­ever, ru­mour mon­ger­ing is also a valid con­cern, es­pe­cially in a volatile state like J&K. “In­cite­ment to vi­o­lence is a se­ri­ous con­cern and What­sApp needs to start en­gag­ing more with pol­icy mak­ers and others who work on hu­man rights. Un­like the other ma­jor plat­forms that do dis­cuss their poli­cies and con­tem­po­rary prob­lems, What­sApp seems to be less in­clined to en­gage. I hope this will change,” added CCG’s Arun.

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