To deal with the issues of cyberspace India rely on Information Technology Act of 2000, Section 79 of the said act states that ISPs (Intermediary Service Providers) won’t be held liable for any third-party information, data or communication link made available or hosted by them.
As per the new rules announced by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the social media platforms will have to appoint compliance officers from India. The officer will overlook the complaints, monitor the content and remove it if it is objectionable. Significant social media companies will also have to publish a monthly compliance report disclosing details of complaints received and action taken, as also details of contents removed proactively.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) notified the rules in the gazette on February 25 and asked social media companies (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Koo) to comply within three months. However, the sources said that if the companies do not follow the rules, their status as intermediaries may end, and they may be subject to criminal prosecution. The deadline ends on May 25 2021, and reportedly only one company has appointed such officials.
"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. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform," said a Facebook spokesperson
None of the social media giants including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram has complied with the new regulations. Meanwhile, Twitter said they keep their own fact-checkers that neither identifies nor reveal how the facts are being investigated.
The new rules were introduced to make social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, which have seen a phenomenal surge in usage over the past few years in India - more accountable and responsible for the content hosted on their platform.
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 sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order.
While the companies must comply with guidelines in order to preserve their exemption from liability as Intermediary, these platforms shouldn't be stopped from operating. Facebook is helping small-time businesses to go digital almost free of cost. Apart from this, these platforms are also performing their bit as helplines for plasma, Medicines, Oxygen cylinders availability. Having the above mentioned platforms in this time of restricted mobility is nothing but a blessing.