IT and Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday expressed concerns over fake news circulations and rumour mongering on social media and said those who abuse internet platform cannot seek plea of privacy.
The minister said he has maintained his stand since last one year that origin of messages on Whatsapp should be known to help track people who promote disturbance in the society by promoting fake news and rumours.
“Does a terrorist have a right to privacy? Does a person who promotes mayhem has right to privacy? These are the questions with which we are dealing. Irony is that, those who abuse this beautiful platform to ferment terrorism, to radicalise, to provoke mayhem seek the plea of privacy,” Prasad said while speaking at a cyber security conference organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
Citing the Supreme Court’s observation, the minister said a terrorist cannot take the plea of privacy.
Talking about misuse of social media, Prasad said, “Whatsapp is very fine instrument but if a particular mischief maker abuses Whatsapp, he circulates fake news design to create mayhem, rumour mongering, (that) lead to killing, what should be done? We don’t need rocket science. On the same day, on the same issue and in same area, millions of fake rumours are circulated but the origin must be known,” Prasad said.
The IT ministry has asked WhatsApp to develop a mechanism to trace origin of messages when the app is found to be abused by terrorists and extremists.
WhatsApp has said that it supports encryption and is focussed on making changes to its product to deal with virality like forward limits that it had set on its messages.
The platform is yet to heed to the demand of Indian government.