Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:34

Indian telcos told to find ways to block Facebook, WhatsApp

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Telecom operators in India have been asked to devise methods of blocking Facebook and WhatsApp in the event that these applications are misused, Reuters reports.

The news agency said it had seen a document, sent to telecom service providers, mobile and Internet industry organisations by the Indian department of telecommunications in July, asking them to "explore various possible options" to block such applications.

Several deaths have occurred in India this year due to rumours which have been spread through WhatsApp.

Reacting to this, the Indian Government has asked Facebook to introduce "traceability and accountability", to ensure that provocative messages sent on WhatsApp can be traced to their source, or face legal action.

The government letter, dated 18 July, said: "You are ... requested to explore various possible options and confirm how the Instagram/Facebook/WhatsApp/Telegram and such other mobile apps can be blocked on Internet."

WhatsApp has more than 200 million users in India, its biggest userbase of any country. Indians are said to forward messages more often than people in other countries.

WhatsApp has already said it would roll out software changes to make it harder for messages to be forwarded.

An official at the telecommunications department told Reuters that the letter was meant to ask for ways of blocking apps during "emergency situations".

“There is a need for a reasonable good solution to protect national security,” he said.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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