DoT seeks views on blocking mobile apps like FB, Whatsapp

The Department of Telecom had written to all telecom operators to seek opinions 

New Delhi: The telecom department has sought views of the industry on technical measures that can be adopted for blocking mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc in situations where national security and public order are under threat.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) on July 18, 2018, had written to all telecom operators, the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI), industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and others and asked for their inputs to block the applications under Section 69A of the IT Act.

National security threat

The law authorises the central government or any officer authorised by it to issue direction to block the information on Internet in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.

Under Section 69A of IT Act 

DoT in the letter had said that the Ministry of Electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies have raised issue around blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telecom, etc to meet requirement under Section 69A of IT Act -Official source

In the eye of a storm

  • The popular messaging app, WhatsApp, has been in the eye of storm over abuse of its platform for circulation of fake news that resulted in incitement of mob fury.
  • WhatsApp has not committed itself on ‘traceability’ and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government.
  • The IT ministry, in its missive, had said that WhatsApp cannot escape from its responsibility for such rampant abuse of its platform and needed to find originators of provocative messages. The government had warned against absence of adequate checks.
  • Hence, the ministry’s concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the source said on Monday.
  • The govt had expressed dissatisfaction over measures previously listed by WhatsApp for checking fake news that have triggered violence.
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