WhatsApp CEO gets India’s wish list

Joint solution: IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels in New Delhi.

Joint solution: IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

Stepping up efforts to clamp down on the spread on “sinister” messages through WhatsApp, the Union government on Tuesday asked the instant messaging platform to implement three measures in India: set up a local corporate entity; appoint a grievance officer in India; and find a solution to trace the origin of a fake message.

This was conveyed to the newly appointed WhatsApp CEO, Chris Daniels, during a meeting with Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Criminal activities

“…there are also very sinister developments that are provoking crimes like mob lynching and revenge porn. You [WhatsApp] must find solutions to these challenges which are downright criminal and violation of Indian laws,” Mr. Prasad said after the over 30-minute meeting.

“There should be a proper system through which people can reach out to WhatsApp or complain immediately. The officer should be located in India,” he said.

He stressed that the Facebook-owned company needed to comply with Indian laws and set up a local corporate entity.

Comply with laws

“WhatsApp must have proper compliance of Indian laws. We will not appreciate a scenario where any problem will have to be answered in America only. They must have a proper corporate entity in India,” Mr. Prasad said. Additionally, WhatsApp has been asked to work out a “detailed mechanism to trace the origin of a sinister message.”

“[Mr Daniels] clearly told me… all these things they will follow. They are in process of interviewing an India head … They will also look for a technical solution to trace the origin of sinister messages,” the Minister said.

WhatsApp, which has been earlier sent notices by the government to check misuse of its platform, had previously expressed its inability to trace the origin of messages citing privacy of consumers.

Mr. Prasad, who is also the Minister for Law and Justice, said the company’s representative was informed that the platform will be liable to be treated as an abettor of rumour propagation in the absence of adequate checks.

“… it does not take rocket science to locate [the origin of] a message being circulated in hundreds and thousands… you [WhatsApp] must have a mechanism to find a solution,” Mr. Prasad said.

Mr. Daniels refused to take questions from the media. However, Mr. Prasad said that WhatsApp had informed him that they were working with law-enforcement agencies.

Payment system

On the impending roll-out of WhatsApp’s payments services, the Minister said the IT Ministry has flagged some issues to the RBI. One was financial data must be stored in India. The RBI is working on the guidelines and Mr. Daniels had assured him that whatever guidelines the RBI came out with, WhatsApp would comply with that.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 5:54:35 PM |

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