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WhatsApp May Cease to Exist in India if New Regulations Kick in

WhatsApp said it was hiring more reviewers with competence in regional languages in India ahead of the Lok Sabha elections

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WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

Some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of WhatsApp in its current form, a top company executive said here on Wednesday.

With over 200 million monthly active users, India is WhatsApp’s biggest market in the world. Globally, the platform has over 1.5 billion users.

“Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages,” Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s Head of Communications, told on the sidelines of a media workshop.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption by default which means only the sender and the recipient can see the messages in circulation ? not even WhatsApp. Without this feature, Woog explained, WhatsApp will be a completely new product.

“The proposed changes are going overboard and are not consistent with strong privacy protections that people around the world are seeking,” said Woog, who served as the Spokesperson for the Barack Obama administration in the US.

“Given the end-to-end encryption we have in place, the regulations will require us to re-artchitect our product,” he said, adding that in such a scenario, the messaging service would cease to exist in its current form.

Without denying the possibility of quitting the India market in case the new regulations come into force, Woog told : “It will not help to speculate what is to come. There is a process in place in India to discuss this issue”.

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WhatsApp on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The end-to-end encryption feature makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign. But the proposed IT Ministry regulations require social media platforms to follow a due diligence process to prevent the use of their services for spreading misinformation and provoking violence.

Facing flak from the government over dozens of lynching incidents in the country last year which were linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service introduced several new measures including limiting the number of messages that a user can forward to five and appointing for the first time a country head for the organisation.

“We ban nearly two million suspicious accounts every month. While roughly 20 per cent of these accounts are banned at the time of registration, over 70 per cent of the spam accounts get banned without a recent user report,” Woog said.

“These efforts are particularly important during elections where certain groups may attempt to send messages at scale,” WhatsApp said.

The accounts which are flagged by users by taking advantage of an in-app “report” feature are reviewed by a team of human workers. When someone reports an account, the WhatsApp team can see the last few messages in the chat.

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WhatsApp said it was hiring more reviewers with competence in regional languages in India ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing one of the major demands from the government, WhatsApp said, “As part of establishing our operations in India, we have identified a Grievance Officer who can be contacted directly if a user has a concern about their WhatsApp experience and is unable to report it through other channels.” (IANS)

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Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt Takes Pledge Not to Support Citizenship Amendment Act

The Bill, which has since become an Act, will provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh

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Mahesh Bhatt
After attending the press meet, Mahesh Bhatt on Sunday tweeted: We the people of India , having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.(At Ambedkar's abode. After reading the Preamble of our Constitution)". Wikimedia Commons

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt on Sunday took a pledge not to support the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

He along with Congress leader Sanjay Jha joined a protest meet here. A video is doing the rounds on the Internet in which Bhatt is seen taking the pledge, perhaps a few days back.

“We believe Citizenship Amendment Bill is discriminatory and it violates the constitutional values. We don’t accept this bill and if it becomes a law we shall boycott its execution. We pledge not to submit any documents if asked to prove our citizenship,” he has said in the video.

After attending the press meet, Bhatt on Sunday tweeted: We the people of India , having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC.(At Ambedkar’s abode. After reading the Preamble of our Constitution).”

Several parts of India have been witnessing violent protests ever since the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in Lok Sabha last week. The situation further escalated after the bill was cleared in Rajya Sabha.

The Bill, which has since become an Act, will provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Mahesh Bhatt
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt on Sunday took a pledge not to support the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Wikimedia Commons

The issue has caused widespread unprecedented violent protests in the northeast, especially in the states of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, with the agitating demonstrators demanding the withdrawal of the CAA claiming that the fresh legislation would jeopardize the demographic situations and life, culture and socio-economic positions to the 45.58 million populations of region.

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On Sunday afternoon, four buses were burnt in South Delhi as protesters clashed with police. (IANS)