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Implications of Whatsapp’s “Restricted Groups”, and Intermediary Liability

In a new beta version which is being rolled out, Whatsapp is giving more power to administrators of groups, according to WAbetainfo, which tracks Whatsapp beta releases for future updates. The features: - An admin can restrict all members (except the admins) from sending messages to the group. The group will then be in "announcement mode" with only admins able to converse. - In a restricted group, the user will have to message the admin, which will then have the power to approve messages; that is, the messages will be moderated. - Any admin of a group can enable the restrictions, and the settings can be changed only every 72 hours. - A hierarchy is being established, with a group creator having full control over a group, and admins are unable to delete them. While the environment that this is happening in is essentially to allow group creators to exercise more control over their groups, remember that while great power comes with great responsibility, it also entails greater accountability. Giving Whatsapp admins more power means that Law Enforcement Agencies can hold them accountable for more: remember that last year, the District Magistrate of Kupwara had directed all Whatsapp Admins to register, and said that they would be liable for all comments on the groups: Notice: Running a WhatsApp group in #Kashmir? Get a license. @ShashiTharoor @abdullah_omar HT @fainalysis pic.twitter.com/oV47VfrLHE — Prasanto K Roy (@prasanto) April 19, 2016 Earlier this year, a Police Chief and a District Magistrate also issued an…

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Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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