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Govt may soon force WhatsApp, Facebook & TikTok to trace source of controversial content

If and when rolled out, authorities would need a court order before directing any social media platform to trace the media content to the source

January 23, 2020 / 09:08 AM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

The Centre may soon enforce traceability of messages on apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and TikTok. The upcoming regulations are aimed at helping authorities monitor and find sources that spread controversial content and fake news.

Reports suggest that these new set of regulations are expected to be finalised by January-end. If and when rolled out, authorities would need a court order before directing any social media platforms to trace media content to the source, sources told The Economic Times. The court order would ensure that authorities do not misuse the new rules that endanger user privacy.

“Any request for traceability can be misused, commercially, politically or technically. Traceability is a privacy violation, so provisions under the Puttaswamy judgment which permit such violation under certain conditions have to be applied, otherwise it won’t stand legal scrutiny,” an official said. 

The Privacy judgement of 2017 passed by the Supreme Court states that the government needs to declare the specific objective for collecting personal data, the authorities ordering it, and what procedures it will follow.

Earlier in December 2018, the Centre had published a draft on amending the intermediary rules of the IT Act for social media platforms to trace the message to the originator. However, these draft rules did not require a court order, and multiple social media companies resisted the demand. 

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WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps in India with over 400 million active users, refrained from agreeing to the traceability clause as it would break its end-to-end encryption. Other giants like Google, Twitter have also reportedly written to the government, requesting it to drop the idea of traceability.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 23, 2020 09:08 am

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