Srinagar, January 09 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the Indian police have issued a circular urging people to officially register the WhatsApp groups they moderate.

This move comes after a five-month internet shutdown in the occupied territory which is still ongoing in most parts of the Kashmir Valley. The Indian government blocked internet and telecommunications services in occupied Kashmir on August 05, 2019 to prevent anti-India demonstrations when it revoked the special status of the territory.

An order from Kargil police, tweeted by local publication Ladakh Times, suggests that the admins have to register their WhatsApp groups at the nearest police station. Moreover, they’ll be held responsible for contents shared in the group.

Currently, there is no Indian law that requires folks to register online groups or be responsible for the content shared in these group conversations. The idea is to prevent people from sharing the content depicting Indian troops’ brutalities in the occupied territory. The move will also stifle voice and opinion that goes against the views of the Indian government. Besides, allowing authorities to monitor the content of a WhatsApp group would invite privacy and discrimination risks.

Last month, Buzzfeed News reported thousands of thousands of Kashmiri WhatsApp accounts were deactivated, because they were inactive for more than 120 days.

“To maintain security and limit data retention, WhatsApp accounts generally expire after 120 days of inactivity,” WhatsApp said at the time.

When that happens, those accounts automatically exit their WhatsApp groups. People will need to be re-added to groups upon regaining access to the Internet and joining WhatsApp again.

This is not the first time authorities in occupied Kashmir have asked for admins to notify them about groups. Just last year, before the Internet shutdown in August, police in various districts asked people to enroll their WhatsApp groups multiple times.

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