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The Indian Government seeks to censor big internet services in the country, according to a New York Times report. They also want to monitor WhatsApp messages to trace back to an original message. Earlier this month India had passed a rule on foreign direct investment that restricts how large e-commerce companies operate in the country.

Remove content the Indian govt deems inappropriate

If this censorship proposal is passed, the Indian government authorities can make companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and TikTok remove content, which they think is inappropriate or hateful. It was speculated that such changes violate freedom of free speech and would make India autocratic like China. Large tech companies are fighting back this proposal.

Apar Gupta, executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation said to NYT: “The proposed changes have an authoritarian bent. This is very similar to what China does to its citizens, where it polices their every move and tracks their every post on social media.

The Indian parliamentary standing committee has also summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey or any other senior member from the global team.

They want WhatsApp to break its encryption

The Indian govt also seeks access to messages on Facebook’s WhatsApp. The messaging platform is widely used in the country and is also used by people to spread disinformation, pornography, and hateful content. With access to WhatsApp messages, the government could track back t the original source of the hateful/inappropriate content.

As listed in Bloomberg, Carl Woog, WhatsApp head of communications said: “What is contemplated by the rules is not possible today given the end-to-end encryption that we provide and it would require us to re-architect WhatsApp, leading us to a different product, one that would not be fundamentally private”. But WhatsApp also bans 250,000 accounts every month for sharing inappropriate content involving children.

If the rules come into effect, WhatsApp will have to comply with govt officials in tracing the source of criminal activity on WhatsApp.

Public reactions

A Hacker new user points out: “Yet another example where “think of the children” is abused to crack down on human rights. India’s government should stop going after messaging apps and rather try to find out the root causes of the problems they see: lynchings and brutal sexual violence have nothing to do with Whatsapp, they’re indicators of a widespread cultural problem.

Big tech companies like Facebook and Google flourished in India which has a fast-growing digital population. Now India joins other countries and is considering enacting rules that would restrict activity on digital platforms.

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