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Monday, June 21, 2021

As time runs out, Facebook says aim to comply with IT rules; Google to ‘refine approach’

The rules were notified in the Gazette of India on February 25, and impose several restrictions on social media intermediaries such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others

By: ENS Economic Bureau | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 26, 2021 5:10:07 am
IT rules 2021, Intermediaries rules 2021, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook IT rules 2021, Facebook 2021 IT rules, What are new IT rulesAn iPhone displays a Facebook page in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Facebook on Tuesday said it aimed to comply with the provisions of Information Technology rules and was in discussion with the government on a few more issues.

“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 spokesperson for the company said.

The statement comes a day after The Indian Express reported that none of the three significant social media intermediaries, namely Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, had appointed a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person as per the government norms announced on February 25. The guidelines required these companies to designate executives for these roles within 3 months, which ends tomorrow. Social media companies that have more than 50 lakh users in India are designated ‘significant’ social media intermediaries.

Meanwhile, a Google spokesperson said the company respected India’s legislative process and had a long history of responding to government requests to remove content where the content either violated local law or its own product policies.

“We have consistently invested in significant product changes, resources, and personnel to ensure that we’re combating illegal content in an effective and fair way, and in order to comply with local laws in the jurisdictions that we operate in. We realize that our work in keeping our platforms secure is never done and we will continue to refine our existing approaches, and evolve our policies and be as transparent as possible about how we make decisions,” a spokesperson for the company said.

In the February 25 rules, the IT Ministry had also asked all significant social media intermediaries to submit a monthly report on the number of grievances filed against the content on their platform or their policy, how many were taken up, and the status of the rest. That requirement too has not been complied with so far.

A third requirement, which asked social media intermediaries to make provisions for “identification of the first originator of the information” had also drawn much attention, with many privacy activists calling it the end of end-to-end encryption on instant messaging apps.

The Ministry, had, however, said platforms will be liable to disclose the originator of the message “only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India,” among others.

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