India Threatens Arrests to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter Employees

The Indian government has threatened Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter employees with jail in an attempt to quell political protests and expand its powers to disclose the data of users of foreign technology platforms.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Indian government's threats are in direct response to tech companies 'reluctance to comply with government demands to remove data related to Indian farmers' protests that have made headlines in international newspapers. At least a few of the written warnings sent to companies mention specific workers from India who face arrest if companies do not comply with government demands.

A WhatsApp spokesman said the company will honor requests if they "meet internationally recognized standards, including human rights, due process and the rule of law." According to Facebook, the company is "responding to government requests for data in accordance with applicable laws and terms of service."

According to a Twitter spokesman, the platform "will continue to uphold the fundamental principles of an open internet." In addition, “threats to these principles are growing all over the world, which raises serious concerns,” he added.

India is setting new rules that give government power over online discourse to a degree unparalleled in other open societies. The regulations require technology companies to appoint Indian-based officials to handle government requests, including a contact person to “coordinate 24/7 with law enforcement and enforcement officers” of orders.

The rules also require companies to remove content that undermines national security, public order and "decency or morality." Some companies, such as WhatsApp, also need to help identify the sender of messages, track and save certain messages as they are transmitted.

According to experts, these rules do not provide any clear legal way to appeal requests to remove content or provide user data. According to the Indian legal system, such requests do not require prior court approval.

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