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No impact on the normal functioning of messaging apps states IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

The Indian government claims that the new IT norms imposed on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to disclose the originator of flagged content does not breach the privacy of individuals. IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that new IT norms won’t affect the normal functioning of messaging app for the common users.

Tracing origin of messages is required only for very serious issues which would offend sovereignty, integrity & security of the country. The new rules ask the intermediary social media sites to appoint compliance officer, resident grievance officer & nodal officer. Non-compliance of these rules mean the social media losing its intermediary status providing them exemption from liabilities for third party information & any data hosted thereof. The lawsuit filed by WhatsApp in Delhi high court is an unfruitful attempt to prevent the IT rules from coming in effect. The demands of India are significantly less as compared to countries like US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Prasad quoted that although the government is bound to secure the right to privacy of citizens but also it beholds the responsibility to maintain law & order & ensure national security.

The disclosure of origin of any message is mandatory only in the case of any punishable offence or cases where there is a threat to national security, friendly relations with foreign states or offence related to rape, child abuse material or sexually explicit material. The Ministry told that the company had asked for extension in the deadline for enforcement of guideline but did not make any statement of the traceability being not possible. WhatsApp has brought about a change in its privacy policy where it would share the data with the parent company, Facebook for marketing & advertising purpose but is not ready to accept the intermediary guidelines which would curb the menace of fake news. All the services coming under SSMIs (Significant Social Media Intermediaries) according to the IT act are requested to share the details pertaining to name of the app, website and services falling in the scope along with the three key personnel and a physical contact address of platform in India.

Source: Economic Times

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