‘Info within 72 hours, identify originator’: India amends rules to regulate social media

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The government of India has amended the legislation that now abides the social media platforms to provide information, including related to verification of identity, to lawfully authorised agencies within 72 hours of the query.

The new rules that will regulate the content on social media, OTT as well as news websites also made it mandatory for platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to identify the “originator” of certain messages to the government and remove such content within 36 hours of being notified.

The amendment — Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 — has come just ahead of the tussle between New Delhi and Twitter amid the on-going farmers’ protest. Twitter had denied complying with the government’s request in a rare stand-off as the company reiterated: “Tweets must continue to flow” — only till it ended after a series of communications and the tech giant bent.

“Social media … have empowered ordinary Indians. The government welcomes criticism and right to dissent,” said Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press conference. “It is important that social media users running into crores should be given a platform for raising their grievance to raise complaints about abuse of social media.”

“Significant news providers will have to register on government’s Broadcast Seva portal,” the government mentioned in a notification.

A gazette notification also abides the internet entities “to respect court orders and government orders” and “shall not host, store or publish any information prohibited by any law in relation to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.”

The government also abided by the “tech giants” to appoint “Grievance Officers”, who should “acknowledge the complaint within three working days and resolving it within a month from the date of its receipt [and] receipt and acknowledgment of any order, notice or direction issued by the appropriate government, any competent authority or a court of competent jurisdiction.”

“New entities will be required to appoint Chief compliance Officers and also nodal person of contact for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies,” the notification stated. “Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and rules made thereunder and shall be liable for any proceedings relating to any relevant third-party information, data or communication link made available or hosted by that intermediary where he fails to ensure that such intermediary observes due diligence while discharging its duties under the Act and rules made thereunder.”

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