Emoji or emoticons have become increasingly popular for expressing oneself in the electronic media.From hey, yo, cool, thumbs up to various smiling faces, disgust, anger or sadness, you name a feeling and there is an emoji/ emoticon to express it. However, there is one emoji which many might find offensive – the ‘middle finger’ emoji.
An advocate has sent a legal notice to WhatsApp asking it to remove the offensive ‘middle finger’ emoji within 15 days from the mobile application. Advocate Gurmeet Singh has served a legal notice to WhatsApp, which has its largest user base in India.
A copy of the same has also been sent to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. In support of his argument against the said emoji,
Singh said: “As per the Indian Penal Code Sections 354 and 509, it is an offense 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 of the middle finger is also an offense in Ireland”.
He also listed various incidents where people have faced prosecution for the obscene hand gesture, including a municipal judge being removed for showing the gesture to a defendant during traffic court proceedings.
“A law student was also booked for showing the gesture to a woman when their cars brushed against each other,” said Singh.
“By offering to use ―middle finger emoji in your app you are directly abetting the use of offensive, lewd, obscene gesture. In short it is stated that the showing of middle finger is not only illegal, but obscene and lewd gesture which is strictly an offense in India and Indian Laws. Therefore, it is requested that the ―middle finger‖ emoji / character / photo must be removed from your app namely WhatsApp within 15 days from the date of the present Legal Notice / request Letter dated 26.12.2017,”…26.12.2017,” said the legal notice.
WhatsApp, however, said in its e-mail response that it is in no mood to change its list of emoticons.
“We aren’t planning any changes to the current list of emoji,” WhatsApp said. Singh said he would now be moving court.