WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with new rules a clear act of defiance: Centre | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with new rules a clear act of defiance: Centre

ByDeeksha Bhardwaj
May 26, 2021 06:56 PM IST

The government’s response came barely hours after the instant messaging platform moved Delhi high court against the new guidelines, stating that the rule to trace the first originator violates the fundamental right to privacy, is “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

The Centre on Wednesday said that WhatsApp’s “last minute challenge” to the new social media and intermediary guidelines, all clauses of which came into effect on May 25, is a “clear act of defiance” and an “unfortunate attempt to keep the guidelines from coming into effect”.

A ministry official familiar with the matter said that the sections wherein the government is likely to seek information are clearly defined in the new guidelines. (REUTERS PHOTO.)
A ministry official familiar with the matter said that the sections wherein the government is likely to seek information are clearly defined in the new guidelines. (REUTERS PHOTO.)

“WhatsApp’s challenge, at the very last moment, and despite having sufficient time and opportunity available during the consultation process and after the rules were enacted, to the Intermediary Guidelines is an unfortunate attempt to prevent the same from coming into effect,” the ministry said in a statement.

Hindustan Times - your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

“Any operations being run in India are subject to the law of the land. WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with the guidelines is a clear act of defiance of a measure whose intent can certainly not be doubted,” it added.

A ministry official familiar with the matter said that the sections wherein the government is likely to seek the information are clearly defined in the new guidelines. “It is only in cases where serious crime has taken place, or are in the interest of national security, that such information will be sought and that too with the approval of the home secretary,” the official said.

The government in its statement said that an order to trace first originator, under Rule 4(2) of the said guidelines, shall be passed “only for the purposes of prevention, investigation, punishment etc. of inter alia an offence relating to sovereignty, integrity and security of India, public order incitement to an offence relating to rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for not less than five years”.

It highlighted how WhatsApp messages have been circulated when it came to cases of mob lynchings. “It is in public interest that who started the mischief leading to such crime must be detected and punished. We cannot deny as to how in cases of mob lynching and riots etc. repeated WhatsApp messages are circulated and recirculated whose content are already in public domain. Hence the role of who originated the message is very important,” the statement said.

The government’s response came barely hours after the instant messaging platform moved Delhi high court against the new guidelines, stating that the rule to trace the first originator violates the fundamental right to privacy, is “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. HT on Tuesday reported that WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter were among the significant social media intermediaries that were yet to comply with the government’s new guidelines and make three key appoints — that of a compliance officer, a resident grievance officer and a nodal contact person. The new guidelines state that any intermediary with 5 million or more users may lose its safe habour status if it fails to observe them.

“As a significant social media intermediary, WhatsApp seeks a safe harbour protection as per the provisions of the Information Technology Act. However, in a befuddling act, they seek to avoid responsibility and refuse to enact the very steps which permit them a safe harbour provision,” the government statement added.

The government also stated that while it respects the right to privacy and has no intention of violating it, no Fundamental Right, including the Right to Privacy, is absolute. “It is subject to reasonable restrictions. The requirements in the Intermediary Guidelines pertaining to the first originator of information are an example of such a reasonable restriction,” the statement said.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, March 03, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On