Facebook on Tuesday said it is working to implement operational processes and aims to comply with the provisions of the Government of India’s IT rules that come into effect from May 26. The social media giant, however, said it continues to discuss a “few of the issues which need more engagement” with the government. The comments assume significance as social media companies are facing the deadline of May 25 to comply with the new guidelines for digital platforms. However Twitter is still elusive and on Monday, Delhi Police Special Cell had conducted a spot visit at the offices of the company in a case related to the complaints filed by Congress and BJP accusing each other. The ruling party accused Twitter of indulging in politics in India and taking sides.
New rules in India
The new rules were announced in February which requires large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
Facebook did not divulge additional details. According to sources close to the development, provisions around voluntary verification, 24-hour timeline to remove content flagged for nudity etc.
IT Ministry officials said that appointment of a grievance officer would be a key requirement from day one of rules coming into effect, given the importance of public interface for complaints, and the need for an acknowledgement system for requests. Non-compliance with rules would result in these social media companies losing the intermediary status that provides them exemptions from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them.
“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,” said Facebook Spokesperson in India.
FACEBOOK details awaited
However, Facebook did not divulge additional details. According to sources close to the development, provisions around voluntary verification, 24-hour timeline to remove content flagged for nudity etc., and setting up a process and time-bound grievance redressal mechanism has been put in place, while meeting requirements like generation of monthly compliance reports and appointment of the chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer is underway.
The government had set 50 lakh registered users as the threshold for defining ‘significant social media intermediary’, meaning that large players like Twitter, Facebook and Google would have to comply with additional norms. As per data cited by the government, India has 53 crores WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore YouTube users, 41 crore Facebook subscribers, 21 crores Instagram clients, while 1.75 crore account holders are on microblogging platform Twitter.
Social media companies will have to take down posts depicting nudity or morphed photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint. Notably, the rules require significant social media intermediaries – providing services primarily in the nature of messaging – to enable
identification of the “first originator” of the information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order. The intermediary, however, will not be required to disclose the contents of any message. This could have major ramifications for players like Twitter and WhatsApp.
The rules also state that users who voluntarily want to verify their accounts should be given an appropriate mechanism to do so and be accorded a visible mark of verification. Users will have to be provided with a prior intimation and explanation when a significant social media intermediary removes content on its own. In such cases, users have to be provided with an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.
[with PTI inputs]
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