WhatsApp received a legal notice from a Delhi-based advocate on Tuesday over the “middle finger” emoji on its platform. The lawyer has asked WhatsApp to remove the said emoji in less than 15 days from the messaging app, and that he will file civil or criminal cases against the company if it is not removed. He says the middle finger emoji on WhatsApp is an obscene and lewd gesture – which is an offence in India.
In the notice, the advocate said: “…showing the middle finger is not only offensive but a highly belligerent, invasive, obscene, lewd gesture.”
“As per the Indian Penal Code Sections 354 and 509, it is an offence to show obscene, lewd, offensive gestures to females. Use of a lewd, offensive, obscene gesture by anyone is hereby illegal also as aforesaid. As per section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 showing off the middle finger is also an offence in Ireland,” Gurmeet Singh stated in his notice.
“By offering to use middle finger emoji in your app, you (WhatsApp) are directly abetting the use of offensive, lewd, obscene gesture,” the notice said.
Emoji is a small digital image or icon used to express an idea or emotion.
Therefore, it is requested that the middle finger emoji or character or photo must be removed from WhatsApp within 15 days from the date of the present legal notice, it said. If the request is not complied with, Sing threatened to file civil or criminal cases.