Modi Govt Releases Stringent Compliance Guidelines For Big-Tech Social Media Companies, All You Need To Know

by Swarajya Staff - Feb 25, 2021 03:26 PM +05:30 IST
Modi Govt Releases Stringent Compliance Guidelines For Big-Tech Social Media Companies, All You Need To KnowPrime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad along with I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar in a press-conference on Thursday (25 February) laid out the proposed guidelines for social media companies and a code-of-ethics for digital media and OTT platforms.

With regards to the social media guidelines, Prasad made it clear that the social media companies are welcome to do business in India and the Indian market has been beneficial for them.

He added that the government welcomes being questioned but it is very important that social media users be given the forum to raise their grievances against abuse of social media and avail a time-bound resolution.

"India is the world’s largest open Internet society and the Government welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the Constitution and laws of India", the release reads.

It adds that social media has also resulted in a persistent spread of fake news and it has been abused to spread revenge porn and morphed images of women. Social media has also been misused by criminals, anti-national elements and terrorists, the release adds.

The government has found that currently there is no robust complaint mechanism over social media and users have been left "totally dependent on the whims and fancies of social media platforms".

It adds that social media intermediaries, they are no longer limited to playing the role of pure intermediary and often they become publishers.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad thus laid out the proposed guidelines which are to be followed by the social media companies. They will be given a three month window to implement the same.

Here are the key guidelines:

Social media intermediaries, are required to establish a grievance redressal mechanism to resolving complaints. The companies will be required appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with these complaints. The officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and resolve it within fifteen days.

The social media companies will be split into social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. The former will be applicable to new social media companies who will not be subjected to rigorous compliance.

The established players classified as significant social media companies will be required to:

  • Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer to ensure compliance with acts and rules

  • Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for round the clock coordination with law enforcement agencies

  • Appoint a resident grievance officer to perform functions required under the grievance redressal mechanism

All three officials need to be Indian citizens.

The significant social media intermediaries also need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints. The intermediaries will also be required to identify the "first originator of information" over offences pertaining to national security, child and sexual abuse.

In the event of social media intermediaries removing access to any information on their own accord, they would be required to provide prior intimation to users who shared the said information along with reasons explaining their actions.

These guidelines come at a time when social media giants like Twitter have come under intense scrutiny over their rising censorship and decisions transgressing Indian government orders.

Twitter had recently decided to unblock scores of users who spread fake news that the centre was planning a farmer genocide, despite a government notice ordering their suspension.

It later also resisted the government order to block almost 1,500 pro-Khalistani accounts. This had led the centre to take a strong view against Twitter's actions.

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