Now govt wants ‘WhatsApp news groups’ to be registered

Who would have perhaps thought that the government will exercise restraint to the ‘free flow’ of news on Whatsapp groups, by notifying all the Whatsapp admins, operating News groups to register their group with District magistrate, though they started with violence hit Kupwara district.

WhatsApp recently introduced end-to-end encryption on their Instant messaging client, and it seems, this step has been taken to ensure that they are able to keep tabs on how Whatsapp is being used in the state.

The notification states, “It is impressed upon all the Admins of WhatsApp news groups of the district to get the registration of their WhatsApp news groups in the office of undersigned within 10 days”

The Kupwara District Social Media Center has been made responsible for registrations of WhatsApp group, who will also keep a track of messages shared on these groups.

The notification further states that, “Group admins of each group will be responsible for all the posts on their groups and for any irresponsible remarks/deals leading to untoward incidents will be dealt under law”

Simply put, it’s going to be WhatsApp group admin’s neck on line if anyone posts anything that is deemed negative or offensive.

The notification has also warned all Govt employees serving in the district that they should restrain from making any comments or remarks with regards to the policies and decisions of the Government on any WhatsApp groups running in the district.

A circular has been issued by the District Magistrate Kupwara that mandates the registration of WhatsApp news groups.

The aim of this regulation is to curb the alleged spread of rumours on groups.

The circular calls for every group to be registered with the District Magistrate. The registered groups will also be monitored by the authority for any acts of provocation and scrutinized. Also, the Group Administrators will be held accountable under law for any such conduct resulting in incidents.

According to experts, this move has been exercised to avoid further exaggeration of the violence, which were reported during NIT issue, Handwara killings and other such acts of violence that ever hit the state.

“The Divisional commissioner of Kashmir Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon directed the operators of news agencies to register their Whatsapp groups under the Additional District Information officer.

Talking to Newspoint, Deputy Commissioner Jammu-Simrandeep Singh said that although this has not been communicated to him so far but this remained in his mind since last year after Udhampur issue.

“I wanted to introduce this law during Udhampur issue, but I felt that it is impractical to register thousands of such groups being operated on Whats app and other social sites,” said Simrandeep Singh, he also added that it is difficult and hectic job to monitor activities on these groups.

Meanwhile, when asked from the RTI Activist Raman Sharma about this circular, he said that circular is totally against fundamental right.

He further added that government should find out other methods to curb this problem, registering Whatsapp group is purely an impractical decision.

Social media has become style statements for the young generation, when asked from the youth they said that the circular is strongly against the right to freedom of speech and expression.

They further added that implementing such orders would be a big challenge in itself, despite of implementing this order the government should think of alternatives to book the rumour mongers.

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