India likely to force Facebook, WhatsApp to identify the originator of messages

India likely to force Facebook, WhatsApp to identify the originator of messages

Pedestrians use smartphones at the Nehru Place IT Market in New Delhi, India on Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Reliance Communications Ltd.’s credit rating was cut deeper into junk territory by Moody’s Investors Service, which cited its weak operating performance, high leverage and fragile liquidity position. Reliance Communications’ troubles come amid intensifying competition among mobile phone carriers in India, fueled by the entry of Reliance Jio, launched by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Delhi is inching closer to recommend regulations that would require social media companies and instant messaging app providers operating in the country to help law enforcement agencies identify users who have posted or sent messages it deems questionable, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

India will submit the suggested change to the local intermediary liability rules to the nation’s apex court later this month. The suggested change, the conditions of which may be altered before it is finalized, currently says that law enforcement agencies will have to produce a court order before exercising such request, sources who have been briefed on the matter said.

But regardless, asking companies to comply with such requirement would be “devastating” for international social media companies, a New Delhi-based policy advocate said. WhatsApp executives have insisted in the past that they would have to compromise end-to-end encryption of every user to meet such a demand — a move they are willing to fight over.

The government did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.

security experts have urged New Delhi in recent months to be transparent about the changes it planned to make to the local intermediary liability guidelines.” data-reactid=”26″>Scores of companies, and security experts have urged New Delhi in recent months to be transparent about the changes it planned to make to the local intermediary liability guidelines.

proposed (PDF) a series of changes to its intermediary liability rules in late December 2018 that, if enforced, would require millions of services operated by anyone from small and medium businesses to large corporate giants such as Facebook and Google to make significant changes.” data-reactid=”27″>The Indian government proposed (PDF) a series of changes to its intermediary liability rules in late December 2018 that, if enforced, would require millions of services operated by anyone from small and medium businesses to large corporate giants such as Facebook and Google to make significant changes.

Among the proposed rules the government said that intermediaries — which the government defines as those services that facilitate communication between two or more users and have five million or more users in India — will have to be able to trace the originator of questionable content to avoid assuming full liability for their users’ actions.

Technology giants have so far enjoyed what is known as “safe harbor” laws. The laws, currently applicable in the U.S. under the Communications Decency Act and India under its 2000 Information Technology Act, say that tech platforms won’t be held liable for the things their users share on the platform.

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