After having gone through an extensive dispute with Twitter over content removal, GOI wants to tighten its noose around all social media platforms alike.
According to a recently surfaced copy of draft regulations, the government of India wants social media companies to swiftly agree to its requests for removing disputable content from their respective platforms and provide assistance regarding the same.
These draft regulations, dubbed “Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code”, come at a time when Big Tech is facing an increasing assertion from various countries to abide by rules drafted by government bodies.
A stark example of the same would be Google and Facebook’s recent brush with the Australian Government which pushed for the introduction of a media legislation forcing both the tech giants to pay for new content.
At the end of an 18 months-long tussle, both Google and Facebook had to agree to strike a deal with Australian news publishers albeit with some added compromise in Australian’s original plan of action.
In India, Twitter deferred accepting several repeated orders from the Government of India to remove content related to the ongoing farmers’ protests before finally agreeing to it – a situation most likely fuelled India’s long-standing zeal to tighten regulations around content which the government deems unlawful or disinformation.
According to the copy of the draft regulations, the same would be legally applicable if companies do not agree to remove a piece of content within 36 hours after receiving the GOI’s directive or legal order.
It also explicitly mentions that social media platforms are to mandatorily assist in investigations or other incidents related to cybersecurity within 72 hours of receiving a request.
Furthermore, if a post happens to depict an individual partaking in a sexual act or conduct of any kind then the companies must disable or remove the content piece within a day of receiving a complaint about the same.
The draft proposal wants companies to appoint an individual who will act as a ‘chief compliance officer’, one who will coordinate with the law enforcement and a ‘grievance redressal officer’ – all of whom must be resident Indian citizens only.
As anticipated, industry sources believe that these new regulations might hinder the investment plans of Big Tech firms for whom the increased compliances can seem like an unnecessary pitchfork.
The draft proposal said that the rules will not only be applied to social media platforms exclusively but also to other digital platforms. Thus, hinting that the Indian digital media landscape will be highly censored and controlled by the GOI in the near future.
Currently, it is unclear if the rules will invite discussions and possible reiterations from stakeholders. Meity aka the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has not yet responded for a comment regarding the same.
Similarly, Facebook and Twitter were unreachable for a comment as well. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then stay tuned.