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Whatsapp non committal on originators demand upsets IT Minister

After this high level meeting in Delhi, the Union IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad informed that the Facebook-owned company has agreed to the Government’s demands.

“We had a productive meeting with the WhatsApp CEO (Chris Daniels). There were three main points that we discussed  that they should have a corporate entity in India, they should comply with Indian laws and must have a governance officer here,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The IT Minister said that he has stressed to WhatsApp that the company find solutions for locating the origin of fake messages and that should not be a ‘rocket science’. 

“WhatsApp has a lot of participation in education and healthcare projects. These things are all positive, but it also leads to sinister activities like mob lynching and revenge porn.”

WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels is in India this week as the company is trying to address concerns around fake news on its messaging platform which have led to horrific crimes like mob-lynching. According to sources, Daniels will be in India for 4-5 days and meet business and Government officials during his visit.

WhatsApp has also been asked about data location in India for its banking/financial services. “These will be applicable to all the companies and we have flagged this off to the RBI too,” the Minister said.

Sources said that the agenda of Daniels’ visit was to discuss measures which were being undertaken to counter the issue of fake news on its platform as well as the impending launch of its payments services in the country. Last month, top WhatsApp executives including COO Matthew Idema had met the IT secretary and other Government officials to outline various steps being taken by the company to tackle fake news in India.

Over the past few months, fake messages circulating on WhatsApp have incited incidents of mob fury across parts of India and the Government has taken strong exception to these development. 

The Government has also sent out two notices to the Facebook-owned company directing it to take urgent measures to curb false information and rumours being spread on the messaging platform.

The Government holds the view that the platform cannot escape its responsibility for such rampant abuse and needs to find originators of provocative messages. It has also warned that in the absence of adequate checks, it will treat the messaging platform as abettor of rumour propagation and legal consequences will follow.

In its reply, WhatsApp has informed the Government that it is building a local team, including India head, as part of steps to check fake news circulation even as it did not meet the key demand of identifying message originators.

But Technical IT Experts said it is wrong on the part of Government to put 100%  blame on whatsapp alone as being the only  spreading platform  for fake news ., by choosing this path Bjp government  absolves the responsibilities  of  effective administration  of Law and Order that comes under state machinery and Country Intelligence  comes under Centre  Government nose

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