WSJ: Indian government threatens to jail Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter employees

A new Wall Street Journal report today says the Indian movement has “threatened to jail employees” of Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. It comes as the rift between Indian officials and social media companies continues to grow.

The report provides some general information about the situation in India:

The warnings are in direct response to the reluctance of tech companies to comply with data and government withdrawal demands linked to protests by Indian farmers that have made international headlines, people say.

The threats mark an escalation in India’s efforts to put pressure on U.S. tech companies as those companies look to the world‘s second most populous country for growth in the years to come.

According to two people familiar with the warnings, the report explains that “some of the written warnings cite specific employees based in India who may be arrested if companies do not comply” with the data and take down requests.

Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have all issued their own statements about the situation:

A spokesperson for WhatsApp said the company is complying with requests for data that “comply with internationally recognized standards, including human rights, due process and the rule of law.” A Facebook spokesperson said the company “responds to government data requests in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service.”

Twitter “will continue to defend the fundamentals of the open Internet,” a company spokesperson said, adding, “Threats to these principles are increasing around the world, which is of great concern.”

Other data from Facebook indicates that the company has satisfied half of the Indian government’s withdrawal requests. Twitter responded to 1% of those requests, according to its data. WhatsApp messages are encrypted and therefore cannot be read by third parties, but that hasn’t stopped regulators from requesting the data anyway.

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The full Wall Street Journal report is well worth a read.

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