Share response ASAP: Centre asks social media platforms to report status on digital rules
New Delhi, May 26: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), writes to Social Media Platforms requesting them to furnish detail of compliance with the new "The Information Technology Intermediary (Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The note from the Ministry of Electronics and IT asked the companies to give information on the status of compliance and stressed: "Please confirm and share your response ASAP and preferably today itself."
The new rules, announced on February 25, require large social media platforms -- defined as those with over 50 lakh users in the country -- to follow additional due diligence, including appointment of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer
The companies have to give the name and contact details of a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, a resident grievance officer and a physical address of the company in India.
Non-compliance with rules would result in these platforms losing their intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.
The Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were notified by the Centre on February 25, 2021, to inter alia regulate the social media intermediaries by imposing a code of ethics and mandating a three-tier grievance redressal framework.The ministry in the statement termed WhatsApp''s last moment challenge to the IT rules as an unfortunate attempt to prevent the norms from coming into effect.
The UK, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada require social media firms to allow for legal interception, it said, adding "What India is asking for is significantly much less than what some of the other countries have demanded".
"Therefore, WhatsApp''s attempt to portray the Intermediary Guidelines of India as contrary to the right to privacy is misguided," the official statement said, adding that the government recognises that ''Right to Privacy'' is a fundamental right.
The statement quoted Prasad as saying that the government "is committed to ensure the Right of Privacy to all its citizens but at the same time, it is also the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and ensure national security."
"The Government respects the Right of Privacy and has no intention to violate it when WhatsApp is required to disclose the origin of a particular message.
"Such requirements are only in case when the message is required for prevention, investigation or punishment of very serious offences related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material," the statement said.
It added that while WhatsApp had generally sought an extension in timeline for enforcement of guidelines, no formal reference was made on traceability not being possible.
"Any operations being run in India are subject to the law of the land. WhatsApp''s refusal to comply with the guidelines is a clear act of defiance of a measure whose intent can certainly not be doubted," the statement said.