While WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption for all users two weeks ago, users in the conflict-ridden Kupwara district in north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir will require a license to start WhatsApp newsgroup.
A new circular issued by the district magistrate of Kupwara asks for the mandatory registration of all “WhatsApp news groups.” The registered groups will be monitored by the authorities for “provoking the youth” and creating law and order problems.”
Kupwara has been under curfew after week-long violent protests over allegations of a girl being molested by an Indian army soldier in the neighbouring Handwara town. Five civilians have been killed in the clashes with security forces.
The group administration of each group will also be held responsible for the posts on their groups and any irresponsible remarks leading to “untoward incidents”. The circular state that “strict” action will be taken against the people who are against such rules. Government employees in the district have been asked to “restrain” from making any comments about the policies of the government.
After the ongoing protests, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir had suspended mobile Internet for six days, with the ban being lifted only on Apr. 18.
Jammu and Kashmir lies on the border between India and Pakistan, and has witnessed violent insurgency since 1989. In the last few years, there are several other instances of Internet and social media being blocked after protests and as a precautionary law and order measure.