Press Trust of India

Revised guidelines: Major social media cos have set up institutional structure, says IT Minister

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New Delhi: Almost all the social media companies have set up an institutional structure and are publishing monthly compliance reports as required under the statute, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Vaishnaw said to ensure that social media is safe and people can trust what is written on that, a very self-regulating regime, which was laid down in IT social media intermediary guidelines, was brought in last year.
In a supplementary question, BJP member Nishikant Dubey asked that since the Supreme Court has removed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, whether the government is planning to bring any amendment in the IT Act against the SC verdict.
Vaishnaw said the matter needs a “detailed debate” to arrive at a solution.
With regard to social media intermediaries, Vaishnaw said, “Institutional structure has been set by almost all the significant social media intermediaries. All of them are also following the guidelines and publishing their monthly reports. The compliance has been good and whatever further steps are needed to make social media accountable, the government is open to those suggestions.
To a question by TMC member Kalyan Banerjee on whether the government is thinking to bring any law restricting or prohibiting or regulating and penalising the concept of meme which embarrasses a person or criticise people’s posts.
“As and when governments try to increase accountability, increase regulations (of social media platforms) the question from civil society comes is whether we are taking away the freedom of expression.
“If we don’t increase regulation, if we don’t make the social media accountable then the safety and trust that citizens have on these media platforms that comes under a question mark. So it’s a fine balance that we have to strike, we have to evolve and mold according to the changes,” Vaishnaw said.
The new rules require large social media platforms to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. They are also required to publish on their website their status on compliance with the new digital rules every month.
Non-compliance with rules would result in these social media companies losing their intermediary status that provides them exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.



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