Whatsapp disclosed that it had banned over 20 lakh Indian accounts between May 15 and June 15 in its monthly compliance report.
It had done so over suspicions of online abuse and to keep other users safe.
Measures Towards User Protection
The report came as a step towards compliance of India’s new Information Technology Rules, Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, in which it has to state actions it took.
The Facebook-owned instant messaging platform said that it continuously prioritises safety of its users and to that effect it consistently invests in technology, people and processes.
It has a strong focus on preventing accounts from sending harmful or unwanted messages at scale.
Methodology Of Tracking Abuse
It has advanced capabilities to identify such accounts which have been sending a high or abnormal rate of messages.
2 million such accounts in India alone have been banned in the period of May 15 – June 15 for attempting this kind of abuse.
Whatsapp has 3 stages in place in order to detect abuse perpetrated by an account- at registration; during messaging; and in response to negative feedback received in the form of user reports and blocks.
It added, “A team of analysts augments these systems to evaluate edge cases and help improve our effectiveness over time.”
Whatsapp Sues Govt
Despite maintaining compliance with the new rules, it has filed a legal complaint against the centre.
It seeks to block the regulations which came in last month because it forces it to break privacy protections.
The lawsuit urges the Delhi High Court to declare one of the rules a violation of privacy rights in India’s constitution since it requires social media firms to identify the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.
Whatsapp said it will continue to work with the govt to come up with practical solutions towards keeping people safe including “responding to valid legal requests for the information available to [it].”
It also protested that compelling it to ‘trace’ chats is tantamount to directly seeing every message sent, something which breaks “end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy.”
When the govt clashed with social media giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, it demanded that they remove “misinformation ” regarding the ongoing pandemic along with anti-govt opinions regarding the crisis and farmers’ protests.
Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code also required these firms to put in place Indian citizens which would ensure compliance and order removal of content within 36 hours of a legal order.
They were also required to set up a grievance redressal system.
Failure of compliance puts the firms in a position wherein they lose protection from lawsuits and criminal prosecution.