The Government of India passed new rules in February this year for Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube that they would face criminal action in India if they fail to comply with the norms of the new Intermediary Rules. And as it stands, none of them have successfully managed to do so resulting in action from the Government of India on the cards.
Back in February, through special provisions for “significant social media intermediaries” any app having more than 50 lakh registered users were to comply with these new rules by the date the rules come into effect on Wednesday, May 26.
The new rules included that these key social media platforms appoint at least three officers in the country for grievance redressal and follow a specific code of conduct that has been criticized for violating the principles of free speech.
The appointed officer will be having the job to overlook the complaints, monitor the content, and remove it if it is objectionable. Apart from the popular Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube, the rules were meant for other OTT platforms as well. This means that the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc will also have to follow these provisions and comply with these rules.
The OTT platforms were directed to appoint a grievance redressal officer based in India. The duty of this officer would be to take care of the complaints and act on them in 15 days.
The Government of India felt that these platforms do not have a code of self-regulation. Hence, it wanted them to include representatives from the various ministries and form a committee to regulate the content. The special provision that was added in the law was put together under “additional due diligence” in the rules.
It states that social media platforms with more than 50 lakh registered users to appoint a specific chief compliance officer for ensuring compliance with the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Intermediaries Rules, a nodal contact person to round-the-clock coordinate with law enforcement agencies, and a resident grievance officer to acknowledge grievances within 24 hours and respond them within 15 days. Moreover, all of the three individuals that are appointed are required to be Indian residents.
The Government has also stated that all these social media platforms must have a physical contact address in India along with contact details of these appointed officers should be mentioned on their websites for the users to refer to.
Also, the rules included a provision requiring the social media platforms to make use of automated tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) driven mechanisms in order to assist them in removing any kind of objectionable content.
We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform. A Facebook spokesperson
Various social media platforms have come out requesting the Government of India to extend the timeline for the provisions. Not just these companies, but also the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) have also asked for an extension of one year to comply with these new rules.
With the decision made in February and the deadline given to these Social Media platforms being of 3 months that end in May, there is yet no response from the Government of India regarding any kind of temporary relaxations or deferral in the rules of any kind.
There is also no information so far regarding the punishment these apps will be given if they fail to comply by the May 26 deadline.
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