‘Must Have a Grievance Officer in India’: IT Min to WhatsApp CEO

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In a stern message to WhatsApp, the Indian government said the messaging platform will need to set up a local entity and find a tech solution to trace the origin of fake messages on its platform and must comply with Indian laws and set up a corporate presence in the country.

Union IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, after his meeting with WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels, said, “There are also very sinister developments that provokes crime like lynching, revenge porn, and you must find solutions to these challenges which are downright criminal violation of Indian laws.”

He further said, the three suggestions to tackle the problems posed by WhatsApp

  1. WhatsApp must have a grievance officer in India.
  2. WhatsApp must be in proper compliance with Indian laws. We won’t appreciate a scenario where any problem will have to be answered in America.
  3. WhatsApp has become an important component of India’s digital storage and must have a proper corporate entity located in India.

Over the past few months, fake messages circulating on WhatsApp have incited incidents of mob fury across parts of India. The government has sent out two notices to the Facebook-owned company, directing it to take urgent measures to curb false information and rumours from being circulated on the messaging platform.

Daniels, who arrived in India on Tuesday, will meet business and government officials during his visit to discuss measures being undertaken to counter the issue of fake news on its platform as well as the impending launch of its payments services in the country. Last month, WhatsApp top executives including COO Matthew Idema had met the IT Secretary and other government officials to outline various steps being taken by the company to tackle fake news in India.

WhatsApp told the government that the company was engaging with law enforcement agencies to develop systems to counter the spreading of fake news. IT minister complimented Daniels for the extraordinary technological awakening that WhatsApp has led in the entire country for education, healthcare, information about agriculture and farming. These are very positive developments.

In its response, WhatsApp has informed the government that it is building a local team, including India head, as part of its steps to check fake news circulation even as it did not meet the key demand of identifying message originators. WhatsApp’s plans for a full rollout of its payments services were also discussed at the meeting and the government said that it had flagged its concerns, particularly about local storage of data, with the Reserve Bank of India.