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Kashmir residents to be ordered to register their WhatsApp groups

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Crises come and go in this world – even whole world wars come and go sometimes – but none are ever as persistent and as lingering, and as meaningful to the people who actually live there as “territorial disputes.”

These are “small wars” that never end for people who live them – but with the new, “connected world” attention in various regions of the globe might at some point shift to them. This time, it’s time to shed some, but not much light onto one such ongoing, never resolved crisis – and to thank this we have The Next Web reporting about some real-world trouble in “the northern state of Kashmir, in India.”

That state’s authorities now appear to be asking users to “officially register the WhatsApp groups they moderate.”

The reported official police “circular” refers to a shutdown in parts of the northern state of Kashmir and comes after a 5-month internet shutdown of the entire region. The actions and intent of the country’s authorities have all reportedly been to maintain law and order in this particular part of India’s territory.

But both internet and telecommunications services are said to have been scrapped along with Article 370 of the county’s Constitution in August 2019 – and along the way, revoking the state’s (Kashmir’s) autonomy.

The grand total result of this ongoing real-world crisis now seems to be this: WhatsApp admins must register their groups at the nearest police station – and they will also be “held responsible for content shared in the group.”

To be fair – the Next Web also gives out a lot of qualifiers; first, citing “an order from Kargil police, tweeted by local publication Ladakh Times” – and then adding that there is actually “no Indian law that requires folks to register online groups or be responsible for the content shared in these group conversations.”

The article adds, though – that “the idea is to prevent people from sharing sensitive content which may pose grave threat to peace and communal harmony in the district.”

“While the police may claim their intention here is to maintain law and order, the move might also stifle voice and opinion that goes against the views of the government. Plus, allowing authorities to monitor the content of a WhatsApp group might invite privacy and discrimination risks,” the NextWeb said.

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