IT rules: Centre seeks compliance status from Facebook, Twitter 'ASAP'
The central government on Wednesday asked social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp to share their status of compliance with the new IT rules. The Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 came into effect on Wednesday. The social media platforms were given a three-month timeline (which ended on Tuesday) to comply with the new rules.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology today issued a notice to "Significant Social Media Intermediaries" or SSMIs. It asked them to provide details of a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, a resident grievance officer, and a physical address of the company in India, as mandated under the new IT rules. It has also sought the status of compliance with IT rules.
The Centre had notified the new rules on February 25, 2021, to regulate digital content. The rules will impact digital news media, social media sites, OTT platforms, etc. Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp were given three months to comply with the new rules, which require the companies to set up a three-tier grievance redressal framework and remove content within 36 hours of a legal order.
The IT rules state that SSMIs that host third-party information, messages, and posts stand to lose protection from lawsuits and prosecution for failing to comply with the rules. Social media platforms will no longer be considered just intermediaries, which allowed them legal immunity from objectionable content. Now, the platforms will be treated like any other publisher and will face relevant action.
WhatsApp on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against the rules which require it to trace the "first originator of information." WhatsApp argued this would break end-to-end encryption and undermine people's right to privacy. Opposing the plea, the Centre said it is committed to upholding the citizens' right to privacy, but it has "reasonable restrictions" and "no fundamental right is absolute."