WhatsApp threatens legal action against public claims of messaging abuses

The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 12 June 2019
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WhatsApp threatens legal action against public claims of messaging abuses

  • WhatsApp says it blocks more than 2 million accounts per month worldwide for bulk or automated behavior

NEW DELHI: WhatsApp has threatened legal action against those who publicly claim the ability to abuse its messaging platform, after the emergence of a raft of companies advertising products to bypass usage restrictions.
A Reuters investigation found in May that WhatsApp clones and software tools were helping Indian digital marketers and political activists bypass anti-spam restrictions in the run-up to India’s general election.
Until now, WhatsApp has focused legal action on abuses for which it had found internal evidence.
However the Facebook-owned company said in a post titled “Unauthorized usage of WhatsApp” (https://bit.ly/2XbuJjv) that from Dec. 7 it would take action even if an entity merely made public claims of an ability to abuse its platform.
The company said this “serves as notice that we will take legal action against companies” for such abuses. A WhatsApp spokeswoman did not specify what sort of legal action it could take.
Reuters in May reported WhatsApp was being misused ahead of India’s general election through the use of free clone apps and via a $14 software tool that allowed users to automate delivery of bulk WhatsApp messages.
Tools purporting to bypass WhatsApp restrictions have also been advertised in videos and online forums aimed at users in Indonesia and Nigeria, both of which held elections this year.
Some firms in India also offered the chance to send bulk WhatsApp messages from anonymous numbers via a website, Reuters found.
Fighting spam has been a major issue for WhatsApp, especially in India, where it has more than 200 million users.
Last year, false messages circulating on WhatsApp sparked mob lynchings in India, following which the company restricted forwarding of a message to only five users.
WhatsApp said it will also continue banning accounts based on machine learning. WhatsApp says it blocks more than 2 million accounts per month worldwide for bulk or automated behavior.


French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

Updated 18 June 2019
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French court throws out Qatari-owned beIN Sports’ ‘unproven’ broadcast piracy claim against Arabsat

  • The court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser

LONDON: The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris has thrown out beIN Media group’s allegations against the Arab Satellite Communications Organisation — better known as Arabsat.

The French court rejected beIN’s allegations and demanded that beIN pay a fine of €6,000 to Arabsat’s adviser, and the prosecution costs of Arabsat amounting to €25,000.

Arabsat said it welcomed the ruling, which made clear there was no link between Arabsat and piracy.

The court said beIN had failed to demonstrate “clear illegal disruption or prove immediate risk of commercial damage.”

In a statement issued after the conclusion of the legal proceedings in Paris, the satellite company said that it respected the integrity of the French judiciary and was pleased with how skillfully and professionally the allegations of Qatar’s Al Jazeera subsidiary, beIN Sports, were addressed.

“The French judiciary’s ruling, rejecting beIN’s lawsuit and allegations against Arabsat, has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt our organization’s valid position from day one, despite beIN Sport’s attempts to cast doubt on that position; its media smear campaign; and its relentless attempts to push bogus and misleading claims,” Arabsat said in a statement following the ruling.

INNUMBERS

• €25,000 — beIN ordered to pay prosecution costs of Arabsat

• 500 — The number of TV channels Arabsat broadcasts

• 170 million — Arabsat audience in the Middle East and North Africa

• 1976 — year Arabsat was founded

It marks the latest legal chapter in a long running feud that has produced claim and counter claim.  In a press release issued on May 2, 2018 beIN accused Arabsat of “facilitation of satellite broadcasts by the notorious Saudi-based piracy network, cynically known as “beoutQ”.

Founded in 1976, Arabsat has grown to become the leading satellite services provider in the Arab world.

It broadcasts over 500 TV channels, 200 radio stations, pay-tv networks as well as HD channels to millions of homes across 80 countries.

It has an estimated audience of over 170 million viewers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Doha-based beIN was founded in 2014 and operates 60 channels in 43 countries.