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Opposition Parties Claimed Modi Is Violating ‘Model Code Of Conduct’

WhatsApp’s IT rules: Modi Government Is Violating Fundamental Right To Privacy

By JUHITA MAJIPublished 3 months ago 3 min read
Photo Source - JUHITA MAJI

Political parties, candidates and government officials are required to follow the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) guidelines during elections. It ensures ethics among political parties during the electoral process. Violations of the MCC may result in fines or legal action.

According to Clause VII(4) of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), misuse of government media during election period for advertising issues at the expense of government exchequer and biased coverage of political news in newspapers and other media should be scrupulously avoided.

Many WhatsApp users in India and abroad received Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s open letter after the Lok Sabha elections were announced on Saturday. Controversy arose over the open letter being sent from a verified business account called “Viksit Bharat Sampark”. The sender identifies itself as “Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India, Electronics Niketan, 6, CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi – 110003”. Even the website address of the ministry — https://www.meity.gov.in — was mentioned.

Content of the message: The message is claimed to have been sent by the Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It sought feedback and suggestions from beneficiaries of government schemes. The message expressed gratitude for the support on issues like GST, abrogation of Article 370, new laws and anti-terror efforts. The letter listed various programs/schemes launched by the BJP-led central government in the last decade. It even claims that 140 crore citizens of India have directly benefited from various schemes of the Government of India and will continue to benefit in the future.

Allegation of Violation: Opposition parties alleged that the message violated the code of conduct. The MCC came into effect after the Election Commission announced the dates for the Lok Sabha elections. Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien has filed a complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for this violation. The Chief Election Commissioner of Haryana has also referred the matter to the Election Commission for appropriate action. Since the matter has nationwide jurisdiction, the Chandigarh administration referred it to the Election Commission of India (ECI) for “necessary action”.

United Arab Emirates-based marketing consultant Anthony J. Parmal shared a screenshot of the message on LinkedIn on Monday and wrote: “Breach of privacy! Yesterday several nationalities in the UAE — including myself, a Pakistani — received a ‘personal’ WhatsApp message from Indian PM Modi. How did BJP and Govt of India get our numbers? And how can it spam thousands of non-Indians with impunity?” —- In the comments, several non-Indians claimed to have received the message too, some saying they had given their numbers while applying for visas in India.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor tagged a post of a person raising the issue of privacy over the PM’s letter being received by persons living abroad. “Will the @ECISVEEP take note of such a blatant misuse of government machinery and government data to serve the partisan political interests of the governing party?” Tharoor said.

Advocate and Observer Trustee of Internet Freedom Foundation, Apar Gupta, tweeted: “How can we expect the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, to be enforced in the citizen’s interest when the nodal ministry @GoI_MeitY sends unsolicited spam promoting PM on your WhatsApp?”

Violation of rights: The Modi government has violated fundamental right to privacy, and right to freedom of speech and expression as per WhatsApp’s IT rules. It highlighted the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in K.S. Puttaswamy case where it held that the right to privacy is a fundamental right.

Receiving Modi’s message at his mobile, opposition party leader Manish Tewari also tweeted on Monday that this unsolicited WhatsApp message is “a blatant violation of the both Model Code of Conduct & Right to Privacy. Where did the ministry get my mobile number from? Which database are they unauthorisedly accessing.”

votingsocial mediacybersecuritycorruptioncongressactivismsupreme courtpoliticspoliticianscontroversies

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JUHITA MAJI

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    JUHITA MAJIWritten by JUHITA MAJI

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