The admins of WhatsApp groups run by media persons need to be officially registered in some districts in the country.
In 2018 the Lalitpur district administration in Utter Pradesh made it compulsory for the administrators of WhatsApp groups run by journalists to register with the information department. The order also contained an advisory for local news channels, web portals, and publications. Those who failed to comply would face action under the IT Act, the order said.
A joint order signed by Lalitpur district magistrate Manvendra Singh and superintendent of police OP Singh said the administrators of all media WhatsApp groups should submit a registration form which should include the name, address, and Aadhaar of the administrators as well as the number of members of the group along with a photograph of the group admin to the information department. Further, no member can be added to a group without permission of the group admin, who will also be responsible for ensuring that no religious or political messages that could potentially disturb communal harmony are circulated.
The District Magistrate of Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind has also issued an order making registration of the group admin is mandatory. For registration, they need to submit their details at the district collector’s office. Meanwhile, the police in the newly formed Union territory of Ladakh have urged the admins running WhatsApp groups to register themselves at the police stations in the twin districts of Leh and Kargil.
The directive has been issued only in a few districts and there have been no nationwide mandates issued by the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.