The government of Jammu & Kashmir has issued a notice saying that if you want to create a WhatsApp group in the state you will need to register and get a license.
The notice from the office of the district magistrate of Kupwara says that all the group admins of the existing WhatsApp news groups in the district have to register themselves in the office within 10 days. The notice declares that this move will help stem the spreading of rumours in the area.
That’s not all, the administration has made clear its intentions to keep an eye on WhatsApp groups and that admins will be held responsible for all goings-on. Government employees have been instructed to refrain from questioning or commenting on the new diktats.
The notice also said that the police will take action against those who post incendiary messages on WhatsApp.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Kashmir today amidst a protest against civilians being shot in Handwara.
"There is a mini India in Jammu and Kashmir. Dream to do something and not to become someone. India will lead the 21st century because the energy required for it is with us. India has 800 million youth power which is below 35 years. Dream of every youth can become a progress story for the country," Modi said during his visit.
"Monitoring the groups is very hard. And it is absurd to hold the Admin responsible for everything on the group. Admins can add or remove people, they can't control the content people post on the group. The government should understand that WhatsApp is not the only medium to communicate. There are many apps which allow making groups. They should use social media for monitor the activites in a manner that doesn't throttle freedom of speech," said Prasanth Sugathan, counsel at SFLC.in (Software Freedom Law Centre, India)
Recently, WhatsApp enabled end-to-end encryption few days ago, much to the chagrin of governments who felt this move would create roadblocks in surveillance.