As reported on 13th February, 2020, it has come forth that the identities of Facebook, WhatsApp, Tiktok users are to be revealed. This particular requirement has come to light as governments around the world have been trying to hold social media companies accountable for the content that has been circulated such as fake news, child pornography, racist slurs, or content that includes terrorist counters.
Whatsapp has refused to reveal the origin of the rumors thereby citing the privacy rule and end to end encryption for it's 400 million Indian users. But has offered a research programme that will help in the prevention of spreading fake news and further launched a public education campaign in the country. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tiktok will have to reveal the information if the Indian government agencies ask them to do so. This is as per the Social Media Regulations Policy
that is to be released in the next few months of 2020 by the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology. “The guidelines for intermediaries are under process,"
said N.N. Kaul, the media adviser to the Minister Of Electronics & Information Technology. “We cannot comment on the guidelines or changes till they are published.
The provisions in the earlier draft had required social media platforms to help the government trace the origins of post within 72 hours of a request. The records had to be preserved for at least 180 days to help government investigate the records. The rules cover all the social media and messaging apps. Whether foreign identities will be a subject to the Indian Government's inquiries is yet to be seen. The Internet and Mobile Association of India has responded to the policy's regulations as a violation against the Right to privacy that was recognised by the Supreme court in Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. v. Union Of India
They reportedly comprise a form of coercion on the companies to hand over private information. In an open letter to India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, executives from Mozilla Corp., GitHub Inc. and Cloudflare Inc. have put forth that the guidelines will lead to automated censorship and increased surveillance. This will harm the fundamental right to privacy of Indian users. Government has further said that browsers, operating systems and online repositories of knowledge will not be falling in the list so far. Law enforcement agencies around the world have been frustrated by the repeated refusal on the behalf of tech companies to share the information needed for investigation. “For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues — without sacrificing privacy. WhatsApp will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe,"
said the company issuing a statement. Author - Dyuti Pandya