Reinstate Kashmiri Whatsapp accounts, auto-deleted after 120 days of Internet shutdown

Reinstate Kashmiri Whatsapp accounts, auto-deleted after 120 days of Internet shutdown

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Concerned Indian started this petition to Facebook

The Background

On 5th August 2019, India abruptly shut down internet and mobile access in Jammu & Kashmir after a controversial move repealing an important Constitutional provision that had granted the region nominal autonomy for over 70 years. In addition hundreds of thousands of troops were sent to enforce the action.  

4 months on...

122 days later, the internet blackout remains in place for millions of Kashmiris, who have no access to the outside world or any means to reach friends and family in Kashmir, overseas and in parts of India.  It is the longest the internet has been forcibly shut down anywhere in the world. Kashmiris, like all of us around the world, rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch.  Like us, they are part of WhatsApp groups, to stay in touch with extended family, college, school and childhood friends, neighbors, aging parents, children abroad and so on.

The Situation that necessitates this petition to Facebook

On 4th December 2019, Kashmir-based WhatsApp accounts began to be automatically deactivated. Over the course of the day, relatives and friends outside Kashmir, saw their loved ones suddenly disappear from their carefully and lovingly-curate WhatsApp groups, as if they had never existed, their digital identity wiped out instantly. It is estimated that 1.5M WhatsApp users in Kashmir disappeared from the platform in a single day. 

Why the sudden deactivation by Facebook?

As per Facebook (which owns WhatsApp) policy, accounts that have not been active for 120 days are automatically deactivated. It is possible, most people in Kashmir don't even know their accounts have been deactiviated, because they don't have access to internet. It has been 122 days since the internet black out.

The Solution

However, there might be hope. Facebook's support documents reveal that users have 30 days beyond the 120 days to access their accounts before they are "completely deleted." We are asking that, given the exceptional circumstances in Kashmir, that they extend the "30 day period" indefinitely for those that were impacted by the inadvertent deactivation of Kashmiris from Facebook.  It was simply out of their control to maintain those accounts as per Facebook policy.  The users in Kashmir should not be subject to punitive measures they were not able to redress due to the internet blackout.  It might be a while until the internet blackout is reversed, but at least Kashmiris can hang on to the hope that once it is reversed, they would be able to make that call, send that message and reach out to their loved ones to say they are ok, or to receive news from those they haven't heard from in months. We are making a case respectfully to Facebook for compassion and a relenting of this 30-day policy in the case of Kashmir-based accounts. 

Why you should care

According to The Internet Society people deserve to have their rights protected on the Internet as well as offline.  The Internet has the power "to bring all of us closer together. Whether people use the Internet to create powerful apps, find information, buy and sell things, or even just stay in touch with their family and friends — it’s important we all have the freedom to do any of these of things online."

"Communication is a Human Right.  "Communication is at the heart of who we are as human beings. We connect and interact, exchange information and ideas, all of which is made possible through communication. Communication is intrinsic to our humanity as social beings—our relationships are built and maintained through communication, our education and work depend on communication, and our participation in justice systems, political, and civic life are all negotiated through communication.

The place of “communication” in human rights is usually seen in light of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that everyone has a “right to freedom of opinion and expression”, including the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. Article 19 of the UDHR protects the right to express opinions and communicate information and ideas in different ways. This statement implies that all people have the right to be able to communicate."

What you can do

We don't know when the Indian Government will lift the Internet blackout in Kashmir, but we do know that when it does, Kashmiris will want to communicate, as is their right as humans, just like you and I.  Through this petition, we ask Facebook to allow this human right to live on beyond the next 30 day period, when the Kashmir-based WhatsApp accounts will be deleted permanently as per their policy.  

Why we care

Regardless of where you stand politically, we ask you: What if you lost all you WhatsApp data, with all your contacts and data, pictures and voice messages, from family and loved ones abruptly, never t retrieve them again? What if some of those photos and voice messages were the last memories of those you loved? What would you do?  

Finally, this is what it felt like to digitally lose all your friends and family in a single day

Kashmiri Whatsapp Accounts Auto-deleted after 120 days

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!