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4) Mandating messaging apps to screen messages to curb the problem of fake news is wrong at multiple levels. Discuss (250 words)

Topic–  Challenges to internal security through communication networks

4) Mandating messaging apps to screen messages to curb the problem of fake news is wrong at multiple levels. Discuss (250 words)

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Why this question

The recent increase in incidents of lynching all over the country poses grave security challenges. The government has responded by placing the onus on messaging platforms like WhatsApp to screen messages and tackle the problem of fake news, which is wrong at multiple levels as highlighted in the article. Hence this question requires you to form an opinion on this important contemporary issue.

Key demand of the question

The question expects us to explain the issue and discuss the various legal, ethical, constitutional etc parameters on which the directive of the government falls short. Thereafter, it expects us to discuss ways in which we can tackle the issue of fake news.

Directive word

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer

Introduction – Highlight the problem of fake news, role of messaging platforms in spreading fake news and the government’s directive to messaging apps like whatsapp.

Body – Examine the legal, constitutional, technological and ethical challenges such a move raises. Constitutional – Curbing freedom of speech and expression; legal – how WhatsApp fulfills the definition of intermediary as per IT Act 2000; technological challenge posed by end to end encryption; ethical challenges such as lack of consent, violating the privacy of individuals etc. Discuss ideally the role government should play in curbing such fake news by enhancing its human resource and technological capabilities as well as bringing law curbing such practices by deterrence. Highlight the steps taken by WhatsApp in this regard. Also highlight the opposite side of the coin that is, why is it necessary in light of billions of messages being transmitted through such apps which makes it virtually impossible for the government to keep a check.

Conclusion – Give your opinion on whether it is okay to shift the liability on whatsapp and discuss way forward.