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Tracing unlawful content: Govt wants social media firms with over 5 Mn users to respond within 3 days

To track unlawful online content, the government has proposed a new rule to social media platforms to allow breaking end-to-end encryption to check the misuse of the platforms.

The govt has sought their suggestion and concern on the matter. The draft rule proposed under Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act to identify and remove access to unlawful content.

It has asked social platforms to trace the source of fake or hate news and notify government on monthly basis.

On Friday, the Centre held a meet with executives of top social media platforms including Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat among many others. All these firms have asked to respond within next fortnight as it is scheduled to be completed before mid-January.

If the rule comes into effect, social media platforms, who have more than 5 million users will have to respond within three days of a query raised.

In this year, the number of lynching incidents and incitement of violence were reported owing to the circulation of fake news and rumours through social platforms like WhatsApp. The govt want these platforms to provide a source of the message to curb rumour-mongering.

However, social firms have time and again shown unwillingness to break end-to-end encryption citing it would damage their USP.

Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. We will not weaken the privacy protections we provide, Facebook-owned messaging app had said in response.

Of late, the Australian government had passed a bill (anti-encryption law) that allows law enforcement agencies to compel tech companies to hand over encrypted messaging data. It was the first country to pass encryption law and India may become the next.

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