new social media guidelines: Aim to comply with India’s new social media guidelines: Facebook – The Economic Times

Clipped from: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/aim-to-comply-with-indias-new-social-media-guidelines-facebook/articleshow/82933822.cms?utm_source=ETTopNews&utm_medium=HPTN&utm_campaign=AL1&utm_content=23Synopsis

Facebook, microblogging platform Twitter and internet giant Google are yet to finalise their internal work on India’s new social media intermediary guidelines, people familiar with the matter said.

Social media giant Facebook said it aims to comply with India‘s new social intermediary guidelines and continues to discuss ‘a few’ of the issues which need more engagement with the government.

“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,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a response to ET’s queries on the deadline for implementing the new social media guidelines which ends this week.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

Facebook, microblogging platform Twitter and internet giant Google are yet to finalise their internal work on India’s new social media intermediary guidelines, people familiar with the matter said.

The people cited above said they have not even planned to submit the broad outlines of how they intend to implement the new social guidelines to the government and are hoping for an extension. The companies will have to create specific structures for these guidelines that would have significant regulatory and tax implications.

In April and May, bodies and associations such as FICCI, Asia Internet Coalition, US India Strategic Partnership Forum had sought extensions of the deadline and the companies are hoping the government would accede to these requests.

Twitter declined to comment on the matter. Google did not respond to an email seeking comments for its platform YouTube till the time of going to press.

“This is not just a regulatory compliance issue for such intermediaries but involves a complex web of regulatory and tax issues and also a larger issue on administrative standpoint to address,” said Rahul Garg, partner, Asire Consulting LLP.

“India centric modifications may trigger conflict with regulatory requirements including data privacy regulations in other jurisdictions as the platforms are global. Also, the platforms need to check the feasibility of implementation of some very onerous requirements like 24 hour timelines for removal of content under clause (p) of Rule 4,” he added.

Garg said a very careful selection of the entity structure is required considering the quantum of compliances and tax outgo and this would also take time in certain cases as the setting up of representative / liasion offices (which may be a preferred route for such platforms) is not automatic and needs RBI approvals which again takes some time to set up.

“Implementing this during the pandemic times definitely requires more time and hence, government should seriously consider giving some more time to the intermediaries in this regard ,” he added.

On Saturday, Indian microblogging platform Koo said it has met the compliance requirements of the new guidelines ahead of the prescribed date.
Koo said it has close to 6 million downloads and that makes it a major social media intermediary.

The company said its privacy policy, terms of use and community guidelines reflect the requirements of the rules as applicable to significant social media intermediaries.

On February 25, while announcing the new guidelines, the government said the rules will come into effect from the date of their publication in the gazette except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries which shall come into effect three months after the publication of these rules.

Making a distinction between social media intermediaries and ‘significant’ social media intermediaries based on the number of users, which it pegged at platforms with more than 50 lakh registered users, the government said the rules require the significant social media intermediaries to follow additional due diligence.

Significant social media intermediaries are expected to appoint Indian resident chief compliance officers, who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the act and rules, nodal contact persons for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and grievance officers.

Significant social media intermediaries are also expected to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively.

As per the guidelines, the significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging have to enable identification of the first originator of the information, which the government said, is required only in the interest of prevention, detection, investigation and punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material.

Significant social media platforms are also expected to have a physical contact address in India published on their website or mobile app besides a voluntary user verification mechanism for users who wish to verify their accounts. In cases where significant social media intermediaries remove or disable access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same has to be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such actions.

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