India: Proposed changes to cyber legislation pose risk to free speech, encryption & increase burden on tech cos.

Author: Kurt Wagner, Recode (USA), Published on: 18 February 2019

"WhatsApp is at risk in India. So are free speech and encryption", 19 Feb 2019

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market. It’s also suddenly one of the company’s biggest threats. Regulators in India, where both WhatsApp and parent company Facebook have more than 200 million users, are proposing what amounts to a radical change to the country’s internet privacy and liability laws. The new set of rules...would require, among other things, that internet companies proactively screen user posts and messages to ensure that people don’t share anything “unlawful.”... [They] would...create... a system where technology companies are suddenly the gatekeepers to what can be shared online. It would be up to Facebook — or Twitter or WhatsApp or YouTube — to determine what content is acceptable and what content is “unlawful” before it’s ever even shared... WhatsApp...would likely have to eliminate encryption to comply with a law like this."...Jayshree Bajoria, [of] Human Rights Watch ]said]:“We are talking about China-style surveillance here.”... “At the end of the day... WhatsApp and Facebook ... they will have an additional burden,” [said Amba Kak, Mozilla]. “But we will be the eventual losers, because it will be our freedom of speech which will be restricted.”... India’s general just two months away... [S]ome people fear that these changes may give the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi more “power to remove social media posts by political opponents in the coming election.”

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