Business Other News 07 Aug 2018 DoT seeks views on b ...

DoT seeks views on blocking apps

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Aug 7, 2018, 12:40 am IST
Updated Aug 7, 2018, 12:40 am IST
The Centre has sought opinion of telecom operators, internet firms among others on the blocking of mobile applications under the IT Act.
Section 69A of the IT Act empowers the Centre to block public access to any mobile app.
 Section 69A of the IT Act empowers the Centre to block public access to any mobile app.

New Delhi: In a controversial move, the department of telecom (DoT) has reportedly sought views from industry on technical measures that can be adopted for blocking mobile apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram among others in situations where national security and public order are under threat.

The letter was written on July 18 to various associations including Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and Assocham and asked for their inputs to block the applications under Section 69A of the IT Act.

 

The letter comes at a time when the IT ministry has been writing to Whats-App to take measures to stop spread of rumours which has resulted in lynching of innocents in the country by mobs.

The IT ministry has said that WhatsApp has not committed itself on “traceability” and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government. Therefore, ministry’s concerns have not been addressed and the potential for misuse still remains, the source said.

The telecom department in the letter had said that the ministry of electronics and IT and law enforcement agencies have raised issue around blocking of certain mobile apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, among others to meet requirement under Section 69A of IT Act.

 

The Section 69A of IT Act talks about power to issue directions for blocking for public access to any information through any computer resource “in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to them.”

However, Assocham in its response to telecom department has warned that “the proposed measure to evolve mechanism to block applications as a whole at the telecom service operator level is excessive, unnecessary and would greatly harm India’s reputation as a growing hub of innovation in technology.”

 

“The disproportionality and lack of necessity of application level blocking is accentuated by improvements to internal mechanisms that have been developed by various platforms to respond to complaints; block or remove content and disable access to content that in unlawful, illegal or falls afoul of community standards,” wrote Assocham.

It pointed out that companies have appointed grievance officers and regularly taken steps to expeditiously remove content or block access when in receipt of a valid request and publish high level information to demonstrate compliance with legal requests.

 

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