KOLKATA: Fears of social media platforms being switched off for not complying with the new Indian IT rules applicable to them from today (26 May) proved unfounded. However, they cannot rest easy as the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has written to “Significant Social Media Intermediaries” (SSMI) asking for details of compliance.
Under the new “the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021,” SSMIs have been defined as social media companies with more than 50 lakh registered users. Hence, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram fall under the SSMIs category.
The government has asked all SSMIs to provide name of app/ website/ service falling within the scope of significant social media intermediary, the details of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, resident grievance officer and the contact details of all the officers. It has also sought details of compliance status of these rules.
MeitY has asked for a prompt reply, “preferably today itself.”
The new set of guidelines came against the backdrop of growing tensions between the government and the social media platforms. “The basic essence of these guidelines is a soft touch oversight mechanism, where we are insisting upon the platforms to develop a robust mechanism for timely redressal of grievances,” said union information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
According to the government data provided at that time, India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crores Youtube users, 41 users on Facebook, 21 crores users on Instagram and 1.75 crores on Twitter.
As part of new IT rules, the government also asked the significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging "to enable identification of the first originator of the information.”
This is something that has riled messaging service WhatsApp which has filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday against the rules that will require it to "trace" the origin of messages sent on the service, which it says is a violation of privacy.