India’s New Social Media Rules

The Government of India has launched new guidelines or rules for social media platforms. The new rules call for identifying the ‘first originator’. The new rules apply to all social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.

Personal messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal need to track the origin of messages that contain wrong information, misleading, or against law and order of the country. Previously the messages were encrypted to provide privacy to the users. Now to track the origin of these messages, these apps need to break the end-to-end encryption. The social media platforms now will have a tough time maintaining the privacy and tracking the origin of the messages, which is a near-impossible task with the available technology. Personal messaging apps do not want to end the users’ privacy, which, otherwise, may result in many users leaving the apps.

The Government of India has no interest in seeing the contents and maintains that privacy is a fundamental right. “We don’t want the content because the content is already out there in the form of tweets or messages. But, who began the mischief? This, they (social media platforms) will have to disclose,” said the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, while announcing India’s new IT rules on February 26.

The new rules also extend to over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Youtube, Netflix, etc. OTT platforms now need to follow a 3-tier regulation mechanism. The new rules also asked the OTT platforms to self-classify their content according to five groups based on age suitability.

Other social media like Facebook and Twitter should allow users to post what is allowable as per norms. Users can now file a complaint within 24 hours of receiving ‘objectionable’ content. Social media companies should appoint a Grievance Officer to resolve any issue quickly to deal with online complaints.

Information Technology Rules 2021 is undoubtedly a boon for most users who have previously been the victim of fake news or blackmailing content. However, it has become a severe headache for the IT social media giants to follow some issues. It may result in doing away with the privacy of contents, thus interfering with the users’ rights. Let’s see what plans the social media platforms and OTT platforms come up with.

To know more about the new Information Technology Rules click here.

Written by – Himadri Paul

What does WhatsApp privacy update mean for our privacy?

How much access to your life you will have to give to WhatsApp if you accept these policies?

This seems to be the right question to ask ourselves at this moment.

What if I tell you that WhatsApp is no more a messaging app. It’s much more than that we could ever think of.

Then what are the new policies?

Whatsapp has come up with a new privacy update on terms and policy expanding on how the platform can share (or) use the user’s data with other Facebook-owned and third-party apps. But the catchier thing over here is the update comes up with a condition if the user doesn’t accept the privacy policies he/she has to quit the platform. It’s clearly a do-or-die situation and these privacy terms will come into the picture from February 8.

Status, group names, group icons, frequency of activity, and whether the person using WhatsApp is online or offline everything will be stored in their data.

Hold on! 

Now it’s just a trailer film that is yet to come.

Apart from that, the platform will collect data from new payment feature including the processing method, the shipment, and transaction the collect and shared location, the device model, the operating system, the battery level, the browsing data and almost the whole of our data will be tracked if we accept the privacy policies.

Let’s have a look into the privacy policies of WhatsApp at present, it states that

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA. Since we started WhatsApp we’ve aspired to build our services with a set of strong privacy policies in mind.”

But these lines make no sense when we look at their new privacy policy.

Now let’s have a look at how this privacy policy is going to affect a user’s life like you and me.

How will this new changes affect us?

Apar Gupta, CEO of internet freedom foundation says that WhatsApp terms will help Facebook and connected third-party apps to exploit user data for commercial gain including personal data, and also breaching user’s privacy. He also adds that the privacy policy lacks clarity and fails to shed light on how data from Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are being combined and who it is made available.

So what’s the solution for it?

A judicial enquiry is likely to help the users out there to find the answers to their questions regarding Facebook’s data collection practice. Just so you know the Facebook has not yet responded to the joint parliamentary question regarding this practice and the last way is to quit the platform. Most of the users are trying to adapt some other messaging apps for the sake of messaging as an alternative. Some of them are Telegram, Signal and so on…

Read About it more here – WhatsApp Legal Info

Written by – Maram Roshini

POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media: a blessing or a curse?

Social Media is a tool that is becoming quite popular these
days because of its user-friendly features. Media
platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many
more are giving people a chance to connect with each other
across the world. In other words, we can say that whole
world is on our fingertips all thanks to it. The
youth is especially one of the most dominant user of social
media. All this makes you wonder that something so
powerful and with such a massive reach cannot be all good.
As we all know that “there are always two sides of a
coin
,” likewise the same goes with social media.
Subsequently, different people have different opinions on
this topic. So, let’s see some of the pros and cons of social
media.

Connect with others easily!

PROS OF SOCIAL MEDIA-

• We can make new friends, communicate with old
ones and with family.
• We can get a fan base, can try to make name of
ourselves.
• It can bring people together that are
interested in the same things as you are.
• Provides academic research to a wider
audience, allowing people access to previously
inaccessible educational resource.
• Professional networking sites like LinkedIn,
naukri.com, etc greatly assist companies to find
personnel and job seekers to find work.

CONS OF THIS TOOL-

• It use is associated with personality and
disorders.
• Criminals can use it to commit and promote
crimes.
• Advertising practices of this media sites may create
an invasion of privacy.
• Crimes like cyber bullying, hacking of profiles are done
on this platform.
• If profiles are not private, people can get information
about the users and can misuse it.
But, is it really helping us?
At the end , I would like to conclude that social media is a
game changer on the world wide web . It allows people to
connect with virtual world with the risk of disconnecting
with the real world. Then again, businesses are doing well
on these platforms. There are indeed two sides of it, one positive and another negative, and it is up to
you which one you choose.

Written by: Priyanka Joshi

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Links Between Facebook and The BJP

Just the day before our 73rd Independence Day on 14th August 2020, a report by Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz was published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) “exposing” the links of Facebook with the ruling party in India (Union), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).


The report stated that the Facebook’s regional chief (Director) of public policy to have turned a blind-eye to posts by politicians from the ruling party in India, resulting in hate-speech continuing to exist on its platform despite violating their own community guidelines, with no or very minute action taken against their propagators.

Application/Websitemonthly active users (in millions)
WhatsApp400
Facebook290
Instagram165

Facebook has its biggest user base in India with its string of social media applications.

The WSJ Report

The report starts with the mention of BJP MLA from Telangana, the notorious T. Raja Singh. The report bears the testimony of present and former employees of Facebook who’ve said that Facebook has violated their own community guidelines and have let content, which comprises of “hate-speech” and violent rhetoric, continued to exist on its platform.

The report has made firm statements about Ms. Ankhi Das, who is at the epicenter of this controversy. Ms. Das, who joined Facebook in 2011 as its public-policy head for India, South and Central Asia, oversees a team that “decides what content is allowed on the platform”, as said by an employee.

Her job profile includes lobbying to India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, has as the report states as said by employees, both former and present, “told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Singh has broken such guidelines on several occasions be it threatening to create a “Dadri-like situation” after students of Osmania University in Hyderabad made plans to organize a beef festival on campus (December 2015) when he called for the “beheading of those who oppose the Ram temple”, leading to tension in the state (2017).

In January this year, Singh reiterated his threat to kill the “Owaisi brothers” — AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi and his brother Akbaruddin Owaisi — and bring an end to all those who oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Facebook is said, under the guidance of Ms. Das, that Singh has been allowed to persist on the social media platform with some of his posts removed after the WSJ approached Facebook.

The report further states “That team took no action after BJP politicians posted content accusing Muslims of intentionally spreading the coronavirus, plotting against the nation and waging a ‘love jihad’ campaign by seeking to marry Hindu women, that former employee said. Ms. Das has provided the BJP with favorable treatment on election-related issues, current, and former employees said”.

It goes on “In April of last year, days before voting began in India’s general election, Facebook announced it had taken down inauthentic pages tied to Pakistan’s military and the Congress Party, the BJP’s main rival party. But it didn’t disclose it also removed pages with false news tied to the BJP, because Ms. Das intervened, according to former Facebook employees

The report also mentions that Ms. Das’ essay found its mention on the website as well as the mobile application of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre. There’s also a tempting attempt to establish the personal conviction of Das with the saffron outfits as she’s found to share posts with anti-Muslim rhetoric on her social accounts.

Further, there’s mention of Kapil Mishra, whose video is considered to have incited the deadly Delhi Riots earlier this year and Anantkumar Hegde, who has posted essays and cartoons to his Facebook page alleging that Muslims are spreading Covid-19 in the country in a conspiracy to wage “Corona Jihad.

Facebook’s Quid-Pro-Quo & Past Miscreants

It is not the first time such a controversy had taken place. Just about two months ago, when the Black Lives Matter #BLM movement started with the death of George Floyd, Facebook has been stated to have supported and ignored its own community guidelines and have let hate-speech and violence triggering tinged content left to subsist on its platform.

The WSJ, New York Times, and Washington Post were swift to report after finding out valid sources and drafting such reports and have linked Facebook’s electoral contribution in the U.S to such politicians.

During the protests, when Trump threatened to issue the Insurrection Act (1857) after protesters marched to the White House the previous evening and burned the church nearby, popularly known as “church of the Presidents”, Facebook and Instagram were found out to help the Federal authorities to trace and track data of the protesters from their devices and steal their personal data and hack their way into their lives.

It was only after the advertisement pushover and boycott over its (favorable) treatment for Trump that Facebook founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would start labeling contents and it deterred from doing so, so as to let people know “what’s in the case“.

The report also states such behavior of Facebook “Facebook sometimes adapts its policies to meet political realities in key markets. Facebook agreed to abide by stricter hate-speech rules in Germany, than in the U.S. or elsewhere.

In Singapore, where its Asia operations are based, it has agreed to append a “correction notice” to news stories deemed false by the government. And in Vietnam, it agreed to restrict access to dissident political content deemed illegal in exchange for the government ending its practice of disrupting Facebook’s local servers, which had slowed the platform to a crawl”

Das’ alleged decision in Singh’s case bears a striking similarity to global reports from earlier this month, where Facebook’s vice-president of global public policy, Joel Kaplan is reported to have intervened to “remove strikes” against conservative pages in the United States.

The repercussions

Just as the report reached India, the whole activism world bloated like a cannon.

Soon after the report in The Wall Street Journal, Saket Gokhale, a Right to Information (RTI) activist, tweeted about Ankhi Das’s links to BJP-affiliated groups.


Gokhale claimed on Saturday that Ankhi Das “attends sessions” of the World Organization of Students & Youth (WOSY), a youth group that is led by her sister, Rashmi Das.


Gokhale claimed WOSY’s office was located in the same building as an RSS outfit in Delhi.
Rashmi Das was also an office-bearer of the ABVP (BJP’s student-wing) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

With leaders from the opposition demanding a fair probe with the Parliamentary Committee of Information Technology, headed by Dr. Shashi Tharoor, even Saket Gokhale tweeted that the Modi government will soon derail the whole issue and so it’s better to appeal the head of the committee.

Opposition parties like Congress have also written to the government and Facebook for a probe and to clear their stand, respectively.

A huge number of people have expressed their concern within and beyond borders and tweeted and mentioned the government and party leaders demanding a free and fair probe, with the AAP party’s Raghav Chadha led Delhi Assembly panel stating that they’d soon call upon Facebook officials for inquiry.

Meanwhile, Ms. Das has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police stating “threat on her life” due to the WSJ article and has named 5 other individuals in the FIR. “I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me,” Das had said in her police complaint.


According to a report on News laundry, Das named Himanshu Deshmukh, Awash Tiwari, Anamika Singh, Travis Bikal, and the Twitter user @justanalysis as the accused. In the criminal complaint, only Awesh Tiwari is a journalist.

The Chandigarh Press Bureau, a journalist body has requested the withdrawal of the criminal complaint by Das.

Facebook did also respond, just in a different way. They fired the employee who provided WSJ for his testimony. This is also something the social media giant has done in the past.

On 12th June 2020, Facebook had fired employees who protested against inaction upon Trump’s provocative post during the Black Lives Matter protests.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that a handful of employees have written a letter asking Facebook to denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” posts from BJP politicians that Ankhi Das protected and shared herself on the platform.

In a comment posted internally to employees, Ajit Mohan, the head of Facebook in India, said the company was confident that the WSJ article’s claim about political affiliations influencing decision making in India is “inaccurate and without merit,” Reuters reported.

Facebook has yet to offer any evidence to dispute the claims made in the WSJ report — and has not disputed them at all in its statements to news outlets. In its public statements, Facebook has said it is making “progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits.”

The parliamentary panel on Information Technology has summoned Facebook officials and officials from the Ministry of Information Technology on September 2, 2020, for an inquiry into the claims.


To this Nishikant Dubey, a Member of Parliament of the BJP from Jharkhand has requested the Lok Sabha speaker, to remove Shashi Tharoor as the panel chairperson.

Conclusion

Without rules, we live among animals.  There are community guidelines for the safety of users in the social platform, which can be taken for the rules, and from time and again, in lines with such guidelines, content on social media is scrutinized, censored and removed (if found violating the rules).

This is the responsibility of the platform to care for its users, and that’s why the “report” option exits if the content is perceived to be harmful or malicious.  For such a huge presence, to deter community guidelines is very important for every single user to feel safe in their space.

This is a live example where a corporate is lobbying in a give-&-take manner, negotiates with the government so as to enhance its business. They don’t care for the people.

If we’re to blame the political outfits, we must also know that the political outfits could’ve done nothing if they were not provided the medium on a silver platter. This is corporate greed.

We must be aware and conscious that such corporations do more harm than good and choose the applications or websites wisely to propagate our thoughts and ideas in free will and rely on their servers with our data, and they’d point out and correct if any of our thoughts are in violation of others’ or a community’s.

                                                                         – Aanandita Singh

CRYPTOCURRENCY, A PROMISING FUTURE OR JUST A FAD?

Crypto currency is something that everyone wants to talk about but very few have the idea about how it works.

Since human civilization has emerged, the currency has been a very crucial part of their lives. In the caveman era, they used to exchange their things which are famously termed as “barter system”. Suppose, Ram has seven mangoes and his friend has seven apples but Ram needs seven apples. What can Ram do now? He can exchange his goods with his friend via the barter system. But there were various flaws in barter system like lack of a common measure of value (seven apples may not have the same value as seven mangoes), lack of double coincidence of wants, unable to divide into smaller units etc.

After realizing that the barter system did not work very well, and thus currency went through a few recurrences in 110 BC; later “Currency” was coined officially. Thousands of 250 AD gold plated Florence was introduced which was only used in limited countries. From 1680-1980, the paper currency gained significant popularity and was used across the world. This is how modern currency came into existence.

Modern currency included paper currency, coins and credit cards and digital wallets like Amazon Pay, PhonePe and so on.

WHAT IS CRYPTO CURRENCY?

It is a new form of digital resource or virtual currency based on a network that is distributed across a huge number of devices.

The word “crypto currency” is derived from the encryption technique which is used to secure the end to end networks.

All the digital wallets (PhonePe, PayPal, Paytm etc.) are controlled by banks and governments. This means it is regulated by authorities and it may increase some hazards like a technical issue at the bank while transferring money, limited transaction and so on. This is why the future with currency lies with crypto currency. There are more than 1600 crypto currencies are available. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Z-cash are some popular ones.

PERKS OF CRYPTO CURRENCY:

  • Self-governed and well organized.
  • Payment can be processed within a few minutes.
  • Authentication of users’ identity.
  • Removes all the problems of modern banking.
  • The unlimited fund can be transferred.
  • Cost-effective mode of transaction.
  • Decentralized and secure.

CRYPTO CURRENCY VS BITCOIN:

Bitcoin is also a digital currency that utilizes crypto currency and it is regulated by decentralized authority unlike government-issued currency whereas the crypto currency uses encryption technique which acts as an intermediate for the different financial transactions all over the world.

DRAWBACKS OF CRYPTO CURRENCY:

  • There is no restriction to illegal transactions.
  •  More prone to hacks.
  • Limited crypto currencies can be traded only in one or a few fiat currencies.

CRYPTOCURRENCY AND TODAY’S WOLRD:

The whole world is distinctly divided when it makes headway to crypto currency. On one side, there are supporters like Bill Gates, Richard Branson who believe that crypto currencies are better than regular. And on another side, people like Warren Buffet, Paul Krugman who are absolutely against the crypto currency. They both are Nobel Prize winners in Economics and they think it is a fraudulent investing scam and means for criminal activities.

It can be assumed that in the future there is going to be a conflict between regulation and anonymity as crypto currencies ensure that its users are kept anonymous. Despite having some disputes, the use of crypto currencies in the merchant’s navy is increasing, which carries a positive vibe.

By the year 2030, crypto currency would captivate 25% of national currencies which is a notable chunk of the globe and that would be a remarkable step in economical evolution.

                                                                       Saswati Chattopadhyay