The government today wrote to major social media platforms on whether they had complied with new digital rules taking effect today and asked for their response “ASAP, preferably today”.
Platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were given three months to comply with the new rules that require them to appoint a compliance officer in India, set up a grievance response mechanism and take down content within 36 hours of a legal order.
The note from the Ministry of Electronics and IT asked the companies to give information on the status of compliance and stressed: “Please confirm and share your response ASAP and preferably today itself.”
The companies have to give the name and contact details of a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person, a resident grievance officer and a physical address of the company in India.
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code says “significant social media intermediaries” or sites that host third party information, messages and posts stand to lose protection from lawsuits and prosecution if they fail to comply with the rules.
This means that big tech companies can no longer be just intermediaries, which gave them legal immunity from objectionable content posted by users. They will be treated as any other publishing platform and can face action.
Facebook and Google have said they will ensure compliance. Facebook also says it wants to discuss some “issues which need more engagement”.
Twitter is yet to comment; it is caught in the “Congress toolkit” tweet controversy and finds itself on the radar of the government and Delhi Police for marking a BJP leader’s post as “manipulated media”.