Bummer! You Need to Get A License to Have a WhatsApp Group in J&K
Who would would have thought it would come to this – but according to a circular released by District Magistrate of Kupwara district, all Whatsapp admins of News groups have been publicly notified that if they will have to register their group with Kupwara District magistrate.
WhatsApp recently introduced end-to-end encryption on their Instant messaging client, and it seems, this step has been taken to ensure that they are able to keep tabs on how Whatsapp is being used in the state.
The notification states, “It is impressed upon all the Admins of WhatsApp news groups of the district to get the registration of their WhatsApp news groups in the office of undersigned within 10 days”
The Kupwara District Social Media Center have been made responsible for registrations of WhatsApp group, who will also keep a track of messages shared on these groups (Seriously???)
The notification further states that, “Group admins of each group will be responsible for all the posts on their groups and for any irresponsible remarks/deals leading to untoward incidents will be dealt under law”
Simply put, it’s going to be WhatsApp group admin’s neck on line if anyone posts anything that is deemed negative or offensive. And yes, this is not far fetched, we already have instances where group admin has been arrested!
The notification has also warned all Govt employees serving in the district that they should restrain from making any comments or remarks with regards to the policies and decisions of the Government on any WhatsApp groups running in the district.
Will this have any effect ?
One can understand the reasons why J&K Govt has taken such a step. Recently, Internet (including on mobile) was suspended in the state after Handwara firing incident as they wanted to stop incriminatory messages and rumors from spreading.
While a temporary ban is understandable, a notification like this where every WhatsApp group has to be registered with the state is practically impossible. It just goes to show that people in-charge have absolutely no idea of how these things function.
Here is a simple example – What if the WhatsApp group is created in any other state except J&K ? While all members may be from J&K and discussing issues (which Govt wants to prohibit). How are they going to stop it ? Even better, how will the Govt find a new group is created on Whatsapp without registration even in their own state?
Even if lets say the WhatsApp group if registered – Is it even physically possible to keep a track of all the messages that are being exchanged on the group?
The notification is not going to serve any purpose apart from people behind this action getting ridiculed for it!
Here is the complete copy of the notification
— Prasanto K Roy (@prasanto) April 19, 2016