Social Media Clampdown: WhatsApp Sues Indian Government

According to AFP, WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit to prevent India from imposing new social media restrictions that would violate its privacy promises.

The rules, which went into force the same day, come at a time when social media behemoths are at odds with the Indian government, which has asked that Internet companies remove information critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

WhatsApp confirmed to AFP that it has filed a complaint with the Delhi High Court.

The Facebook subsidiary did not provide specifics on the legal action, but it did express its disagreement to the new restrictions, which would apply to Twitter, Instagram, and other sites as well.

The new guidelines oblige social media companies to provide data about the “first originator” of posts that are judged to jeopardize India’s sovereignty, national security, or public order.

They also demand that sites remove nudity or modified photo posts 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.

WhatsApp, which has 500 million users in India, said it would continue to cooperate with authorities on “valid legal requests” for information.

Facebook and Google have both stated that they are working to comply with the rules.

The Indian government has stated that it wants regulations that will hold social media corporations more accountable and prevent the spread of “false news.”

However, it has been accused of attempting to silence public dissent.

Police visited Twitter’s New Delhi offices this week as part of a probe into the company’s decision to label a tweet by a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party as “manipulated media.”

Sambit Patra has posted a document claiming to be a scheme by the opposition Congress party to discredit the government’s reaction to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The document was deemed a forgery by Congress.

Last month, the government ordered scores of posts critical of Prime Minister Modi’s handling of the coronavirus crisis to be removed from Twitter and Facebook.

Disgruntled farmers have been protesting for six months after Twitter agreed to a government request to remove certain accounts criticizing new agricultural legislation.

In February, the platform lifted the ban.

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Ogbonna Ugorji

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