Union Law and Information-Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad suggested that popular cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp should have a corporate entity in the country.
Prasad, who held a meeting with WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels earlier today in New Delhi, said that the two had a “productive meeting” during which they held talks on how to curb the spread of rumours and fake news on the messaging service which have lead to cases of mob lynchings and rioting in the country.
“I had a very productive meeting. I complimented him for extraordinary technological awakening that WhatsApp has led in the country, for education, healthcare, relief in Kerala. These are positive developments,” the Union minister told reporters after the meeting.
Making specific mention of mob lynching and revenge porn, the Union minister said that there is need to find solutions to the law and order challenges that India faces due to misuse of the service provided by the Facebook-owned company.
“There are also very sinister developments that provoke crime like mob lynching, revenge porn and you must find solutions to these challenges which are downright criminal violation of Indian laws,” he said.
Prasad said that he suggested three points.
“The first is that WhatsApp must have a grievance officer in India. The second is that WhatsApp must have a proper compliance of Indian laws,” he said adding that India won’t appreciate a “scenario where any problem will have to be answered in America”.
“The third is that WhatsApp must have a proper corporate entity located in India as it has become an important component of India’s digital storage,” said Prasad.
WhatsApp has been facing a major challenge in the form of fake news spreading rapidly on the platform.
Earlier in July, the company based in Mountain View, California, issued a full page advertisement in Indian newspapers listing 10 points for its users to go through to tackle misinformation.
The ad was issued about a week after the company wrote to the Indian government expressing horror at the acts of violence prompted by the spread of fake news.
The government had earlier told the company that it must find solutions to check the rampant abuse of the platform, warning of legal consequences in the absence of adequate checks.
On 20 July, WhatsApp began testing a new feature which limits the number of messages and media a user can forward. In India, WhatsApp is testing a lower limit — five chats at once — and also remove the quick forward button next to media messages.
According to reports, Daniels will be in India for 4-5 days and meet business and government officials during his visit.