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Indian Border District Orders Social Media Groups to Register With Police

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Police will check “irresponsible” messages circulating on social media, and authorities have given group admins two days to register with local police to report messages which could potentially disrupt communal harmony and order.

The administration of Leh, a mountainous tourist destination in India near the border with China, has issued an order demanding social media group admins, including those on Facebook and WhatsApp, to register themselves with local police, the Greater Kashmir media outlet reports.

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The District Magistrate's office, in its order, cited reports about "irresponsible" messages being disseminated through social media that have the potential to "hurt regional and religious sentiments."

"Whereas, with due consideration to the freedom of expression there is also accountability to be associated with this freedom," the order reads.

"Therefore, to avoid such type of activities on social media group and for proper maintenance of law and order in the district I, Avny Lavasa, IAS District Magistrate, Leh invoke the powers vested in me under section 144 CrPC and order that every social media group administrator shall register his group with SHO Leh within two days from the issuance of this order."

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The order also demands WhatsApp and Facebook group admins to report posts and rumours being circulated which are sensitive and likely to cause public disorder.

"The admin shall be ready to bear responsibility and ownership of the content posted in the group. He/She shall immediately delete the said comment in addition to reporting to the nearest police station. Each WhatsApp group admin shall immediately enable message uploading status to ‘only admins can send messages' from today for one week till 18/02/2019 in the first instance," the order adds.

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The order was issued invoking section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code which empowers an executive magistrate to direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management.

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