India targets Facebook ‘evil’ in backlash against US giants
India’s government dealt retail giants Amazon.com and Walmart a devastating blow this year with new policies undermining their growth plans. Now US social media pioneers Facebook and Twitter are in danger of suffering similar setbacks in what is perhaps the world’s most important emerging technology market.
In the latest skirmish, the government is targeting Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp, the popular messaging service increasingly important to its parent’s bottom line. Frustrated that the service has been used to incite violence and spread pornography, the government is pressing WhatsApp to allow more official oversight of online discussions, even if that means giving officials access to protected, or encrypted, messages. Facebook has refused, risking punitive measures or even the possibility of a shutdown in its biggest market.
“For six months, we’ve been telling them to bring more accountability to their platform but what have they done?” said Gopalakrishnan S., a senior official in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology known as MEITY. “So pedophiles can go about on WhatsApp fully secure that they won’t get caught. It is absolutely evil.”
Photo courtesy of Pabak Sarkar.