12 Feb 2021: Government readies draft rules to regulate social media
As it remains locked in an intense face-off with Twitter, the Indian government has prepared draft rules to regulate social media, OTT (Over The Top) platforms, as well as, news-related websites.
The rules advocate a self-regulatory mechanism, which will include a stringent Code of Ethics. Yesterday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad declared that tech giants will have to follow the Indian constitution.
Details: Compliance officer will respond to complaints of law enforcement agencies
Further, the government is considering appointing a chief compliance officer, who will be tasked with responding to complaints of law enforcement agencies on a 24X7 basis, a report in NDTV said.
A grievance redressal mechanism portal is also likely to be set up, sources told the daily.
In case of emergency, a Secretary-rank officer can take action and inform the committee within 48 hours.
Time: Websites will have 36 hours to remove flagged content
Reportedly, websites will have 36 hours to remove content, flagged by a court or another designated body.
The government will develop the "oversight mechanism," that will coordinate "adherence to Code of Ethics by publishers and self-regulating bodies."
The idea is to heavily reduce, if not remove, the safe harbor enjoyed by tech giants over allowing controversial content.
Looking back: Prasad told tech giants welcome, but have to respect laws
Details about the draft rules surfaced on the same day of Prasad's fiery speech in the Parliament. The minister, naming Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn, said that while tech giants are more than welcome to work in India, they will have to follow law of the land.
He added that the government would not compromise with the security and sovereignty of India.
'Double standards': Social media platforms turned against Indian government, claimed minister
Prasad also mentioned "double standards" of social media platforms, saying they aided police investigation after the riots in United States Capitol in January but turned against the Indian government when the Red Fort was breached.
He also claimed that social media companies will not be allowed to tamper with elections here and that Election Commission will take stringent action if this happens.
Looking back: Earlier, Twitter had defied government orders
Earlier, Twitter had failed to comply fully with the government's orders and was thereafter served with non-compliance notices.
In its defense, the micro-blogging platform posted a lengthy blog on Wednesday, saying it stood for the "right of free expression."
Twitter also stated that it felt the government's directives were not consistent with the Indian law, hence, it didn't do the needful.