Very recently, a joint order issued by the district magistrate of Varanasi and the city s police chief stated that any offensive posts, such as rumors or fake news, circulated through WhatsApp or Facebook groups can land the group admin in jail. And within barely a week of the new rule, there reportedly has been an arrest for the violation of the same rule. Also Read - "Mobile payments exceeded ATM cash withdrawals for the first time" in India last year: PM ModiAlso Read - WhatsApp to allow select users to choose different skin combinations for couple emojis
According to a report by News 18, a WhatsApp group admin has been arrested in Karnataka s Uttara Kannada district after a derogatory post about Prime Minister Narendra Modi was circulated in the group. A police source told the news agency that the administrator of the WhatsApp group called ‘The Balse Boys’, 30-year-old Krishna Sannathamma Naik, from Murudeshwar area has been arrested. Also Read - Meta adds new features in Facebook, Instagram for women's safety in India
Naik, who has been reported to be an auto driver, has been arrested on the charges of circulating derogatory matter about the Prime Minister in the WhatsApp group he administrates. Reportedly, the local police found the group exchanging a photograph of Narendra Modi, which was morphed to look ugly and obscene. The case was registered with the police after a complaint was filed by Anand Manjunath Naik. ALSO READ: WhatsApp, Facebook group admins can be jailed for offensive posts
Besides, Krishna Sannathamma Naik, another accused, named Ganesh Naik, was also arrested, but was later released on bail. There was a third accused as well, Balakrishna Naik, who is reportedly still on the run.
This new rule in Karnataka was issued amid the rising concerns around fake news, morphed photos and offensive videos circulated on social media that can potentially trigger tension and even communal strife in a region. And so to address the same, Varanasi DM Yogeshwar Ram Mishra and SP Nitin Tiwari issued a joint order that said an FIR (first investigation report) can be filed against a group administrator if factually incorrect, rumor or misleading information is circulated on his/her social media group. ALSO READ: Punishing WhatsApp, Facebook group admins for offensive posts may be a harsh move, but necessary
Essentially, the order stated that social media group admins should be ready to bear the responsibility and ownership of the groups. The administrator must include only those members who are personally known to him or her. If any statement is made by a group member which is fake, can cause religious disharmony, or rumor, the group admin must deny it on the group and remove the member from the group.
And under the rule, a case under cyber crime law, Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code will be filed in the case of violation of these guidelines. The order also made it clear that orders of Supreme Court and various high courts will be considered while initiating action.