New Delhi: In an attempt to curb the spread of fake news and child pornography, the government is exploring the possibility of blocking popular mobile applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram. The Department of Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has written to telcos and internet service providers to suggest methods for doing so, reported the Economic Times.
The financial daily mentioned that the DoT plans to hold discussions with social media giants on these issues, especially fake news, leading to mob lynching in some cases. The move also comes amid concerns that fake and malicious news may be used to influence the 2019 Lok Sabha general elections, the report highlighted.
The ministry has started a “discussion” to address the need for a “reasonable good solution to protect national security”, a DoT official told the daily on condition of anonymity.
On July 18, the DoT wrote to all telecom operators and others, seeking suggestions about blocking mobile applications under Section 69A of the IT Act. Section 69A of IT Act talks about power to issue directions for blocking for public access to any information through any computer application.
It may be noted in recent months senior executives from WhatsApp and Facebook held meetings with Election Commission officials on various issues including, ways to check misuse of the platform ahead of crucial elections, the report mentioned.
Recently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been under fire over abuse of its platform for circulation of fake news and false information that have provoked mob fury. An IT ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said, WhatsApp has not committed itself on “traceability” and attribution of messages, which had been one of the key demands of the government, according to a PTI report.