Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Facebook, Twitter to be blocked in India tomorrow?


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 Facebook, Twitter to be blocked in India tomorrow? Here's what will happen with new IT rules after deadline.

It's been reported that some social media platforms have asked for a six-month deadline, saying they were awaiting instructions from their US headquarters.

Meanwhile, industry experts believe that social media giants should comply with new rules and government can also take a mid-ground.

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 today on May 25, and reportedly only one company has appointed such officials.

Barring Koo, none of the players 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. Also, Facebook aims to comply with the provisions but wants to have more discussion with the government to maintain freedom of speech.

"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 in an email to Times Now.

It's been reported that some social media platforms have asked for a six-month deadline, saying they were awaiting instructions from their US headquarters. The rules, or the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules), aim to make social media companies more accountable. The rules include the appointment of the supervisory mechanism will include a committee with representatives from Defense, Foreign Affairs, Home, I&B, Law, Information Technology and Development of Women and Children.

It will have 'suo motu powers' to call hearings on complaints of violation of the Code of Ethics if it wants. The government will also designate an officer of the rank of a Joint Secretary or above as the “Authorised Officer” who can direct blocking of content.  

Meanwhile, industry experts believe that social media giants must comply with new IT rules and government can also take a mid-ground. These platforms are now an integral part of digital media and should not be taken off.

"I think a mid-way needs to be figured out.  While Facebook, Twitter and other such platforms must comply with law of the land, these platforms should not be taken off. These are integral and play a very important role as well. We have recently seen how Twitter became the SOS helpline as the cases were on the rise during the second wave.  Similarly, how Facebook is helping small-time businesses to go digital almost free of cost.  A small-time shopkeeper doesn't even need to think of creating a website, can simply have a product catalogue on the Facebook page and go hybrid in the present situations where we have restricted mobility," Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC told Times Now.

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