Leaving everyone in ambiguities, the new social media norms are going to come into effect on Wednesday, May 26. Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp may not be accessible in India as the deadline to comply with the new Intermediary Guidelines is going to end today and none of the platforms has complied with the news guidelines yet.
The platforms may face legal action as they have not complied with the new guidelines.
A Facebook spokesperson has told Gadget 360 that they are currently in discussion with the government to resolve the issue. “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,” the spokesperson said.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting introduced the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 on February 25, 2021. The government had given a three months deadline to all the social media platforms to comply with the new guidelines.
As per the new social media guidelines, it is required that social media platforms should 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. All three officers need to be Indian residents only.
The new guidelines also signify that the social media platforms need to have a physical contact address in India and must show the contact details of the appointed officers on their websites and apps.
It also requires the platforms to show the first originator of a message shared on the platform. The following guideline was criticized by several including Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) citing its impact on the freedom of speech and expression and will also weaken the end-to-end encryption.
“Social media platforms shall not be required to disclose the contents of any message or any other information to the first originator,” the government said.
The new norms also require the social media platforms to have automated tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) driven mechanisms to remove objectionable content.
The new Intermediary Rules will also be applicable to OTT platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others. Expressing the concern that social media platforms don’t have a code of self-regulation, the government wants companies to pick representatives from different ministries and constitute a committee for the proper content regulation.
Recently introduced guidelines also mention that the committee will have the sole power to take action on complaints of the violation of codes.