Issues with New IT rules for Social Media

Synopsis: Instead of non-compliance with the new IT rules for social media, social media companies should engage with the government to address their concerns.


New IT rules of intermediaries will come into effect from today. But, it is expected that most of the global social media giants will not comply with the rules.

About the new IT rules on social media:

The government introduced few stringent rules for social media intermediaries in February. Further, the government provided 3 months’ time for Social media platforms to adhere to the rules. That 3-month time period ended on 25th May. The important provisions of rules are,

  • Firstly, Social media companies are prohibited from hosting or publishing any unlawful information. This information is “in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries, etc.
  • Secondly, if such information is hosted or published, the government can take down such information within 24 hours. The user will be given a notice before their content is taken down.
  • Thirdly, New IT rules were introduced in February. Under the new rules, Social media platforms are classified into two categories.
    1. Social media intermediaries – Platforms that have a limited user base.
    2. Significant social media intermediaries – These are the platforms with a large user base.
  • Fourthly, the significant social media intermediaries have to follow few additional measures like:
    • These platforms should have a physical contact address in India.
    • Appointing a Chief Compliance OfficerNodal Contact Person, and a Resident Grievance Officer in India. All of them should be Indian Residents.
Problems with new IT rules on social media:
  1. Lack of public consultation: The rules were notified in a short time without much public consultation.
  2. Against some social media intermediary’s policy: The rules require tracing the information back to the source. This is against some social media’s policy. For example, WhatsApp claiming their policy as end-to-end encrypted cannot accept new IT rules.
  3. Widen the gap: This non-compliance will further widen the relationship gap between social media players and the Government. Further, it will also increase ongoing issues. For example,
  4. Genuine concerns of social media companies are not considered: Social media companies like Facebook mentions that they are ready to comply with the rules. But prior to that, they need to engage with the Government on a few issues. They mention that the genuine concerns on new IT rules are not considered by the government.
  • Providing more time: Five industry bodies, including the CII, FICCI and the U.S.-India Business Council have sought an extension of 6-12 months for compliance. The government can provide time relaxation for compliance. In the meantime, the government can bring together both the private and industry experts to address genuine concerns.
  • Taking the issue to court: Instead of complete non-compliance, social media companies can fight the new rules in a court of law if they find them problematic.

Source: The Hindu

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