At a time when WhatsApp has been pulled up several times by the government for the circulation of fake news on the platform, the company’s CEO Chris Daniels met Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad who told the former that the government “will not appreciate a scenario where any problem that has risen in India” is answered to only in the US. The meeting between Daniels and Prasad lasted for over 45 minutes.
Daniels is understood to be in India for 4-5 days, starting Tuesday, and is expected to meet business and government officials. The government had also issued a notice to the messaging company, which, in its response had outlined initiatives being taken to curb fake news circulation including education and advocacy efforts but noted that the measures did not meet the government’s expectations on ‘traceability’ and attribution of such messages.
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Prasad told Daniels to implement three measures. “You must have a grievance system in India and a whole system where people can reach you immediately. Secondly, you must have proper compliance with Indian laws. We will not appreciate a scenario where any problem that has risen is answered to only in America. Thirdly, WhatsApp having become an important component of India’s digital story must have a proper corporate entity located in India. He assured that the company will soon follow these. He said that we are working with law enforcement agencies to develop a system,” Prasad told Daniels while briefing reporters.
He added that WhatsApp told the government that the company was engaging with law enforcement agencies to develop systems to counter spreading of fake news. “I complimented him 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. There also certain sinister developments which are provoking crimes such as mob lynching, like revenge porn and you must find solutions for these challenges that are downright criminal,” Prasad added.
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.