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WhatsApp group admin arrested in Maharashtra; who’s liable for content?

An administrator of a WhatsApp group along with three others have been arrested in Latur district in Maharashtra last week over objectionable content of videos of cow slaughtering and criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reports The New Indian Express. A Press Trust of India report said that the four were arrested by the police under sections 153 of the IPC (promoting enmity and ill will),  section 34 and section 67 of IT Act, 2000. Section 67 of the IT Act deals with obscene content transmitted in electronic media and section 34 deals with the roles of Certifying Authorities. It needs to be pointed out that WhatsApp administrators, who don't really have control over the flow of content in a group, could perhaps be covered under Section 79 of the IT Act which gives them some immunity from the law as intermediaries. Note that when Section 66A was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in  March, the apex court also said an intermediary needs a court order or a government order for getting content taken down. At the same time, the court also upheld Section 69 which allows the government to block websites. Other recent examples - In August, two youths were arrested by police in Chhattisgarh following a complaint against the admin of a WhatsApp group. The complaint was filed by a member of the group after an inappropriate video of Mahatma Gandhi was circulated. - An admin of a WhatsApp group in Nagpur was arrested in June for hurting religious sentiments. Again, in this case the complaint…

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