Delhi

Viral message says Modi govt to ban WhatsApp | The truth is something else

Recently top officials held of increasing use of WhatsApp by terrorists, but the officials didn’t discuss banning of WhatsApp 

The Hush Post: A message is reportedly going viral on social media and on the messaging app WhatsApp saying that the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi may ban WhatsApp across the country.

This is a fake message that is being circulated on WhatsApp, and through e-mails, claiming that the Modi government may ban the popular messaging platform “as it is terrorist’s favourite app for messaging”. But this is not true, a report said.

The June 14- report said: “At a meeting in New Delhi yesterday, the ministry expressed its concern over anti-national elements in the country using social media apps to carry out their activities.”

Part of this is true that senior officials had recently held a meeting after reports of increasing use of WhatsApp by terrorists, but the officials didn’t discuss to impose a nationwide ban on WhatsApp. Rather, a news agency reported on June 11 that the government is mulling to examine the practicability of blocking WhatsApp calling services in “insurgency-hit areas”, the report said.

The meeting that was presided over by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, had been convened to mull over the removal of malicious content from various social networking sites posted by “keypad jihadis”, who try to create a law and order situation by spreading rumours or giving a communal colour to any event via internet, it was reported on June 11.

The meeting was attended by top officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and from security agencies as well as Jammu and Kashmir Police, a report in Financial Express said.

During this meeting, the recent arrests in connection with Nagrota Army camp terror attack in 2016 were also discussed, it was reported.

Interrogation of 3 terrorists in the Nagrota attack revealed that they were in touch with JeM commanders based in Pakistan

The National Investigative Agency (NIA) had said in a release issued on June 7 that the arrested terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed were taking directions from across the border through WhatsApp. “Interrogation of three terrorists arrested in the Nagrota attack case namely Md Ashiq Baba, Tariq Ahmed Dar, Muneer-ul-Hassan Qadri revealed that they were in regular touch with JeM commanders based in Pakistan. They were in continuous Whatsapp contact through voice and text with Maulana Mufti Ashghar based at Muzaffarabad whose “bhanja” (nephew) Waqas (JeM commander in South Kashmir) died in an encounter near Pulwama recently,” the NIA release had said.

The officials, who attended the meeting, reportedly said that the use of the internet for making calls by terrorists has added to security agencies’ problems as they are unable to crack it due to end-to-end encryption by the service provider. They shared the example of a few countries, including those from the Gulf, where neither WhatsApp voice or video calling is allowed, the report said.

According to the official statement, officers at the meeting discussed effective measures needed to tackle the challenges posed by terrorists, militants and also individuals propagating child pornography using the social media platforms. They also discussed steps to enhance coordination among the law enforcement agencies, MeitY and DoT to block and remove malicious content under sections 69 (Power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource) and 79 (limited access to a communication system over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored or hosted) of the IT Act, it was reported.

During the meeting, the officials decided that security agencies will closely coordinate with MeitY to ensure that the action to block the content on social media platforms is taken in a timely manner. The officials also held another meeting with representatives of social media platforms for compliance, the report said.

The Modi government is mulling a crackdown on ‘keypad jihadis’ to ensure that the security forces could concentrate more on arresting or eliminating terrorists with real guns.

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