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India Releases New Rules to Regulate Social Media, Digital News Platforms

Indian authorities have released new rules to regulate social media companies in a bid to introduce a major change in legislation to assert more control over powerful Big Tech firms.

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Indian authorities have released new rules to regulate social media companies in a bid to introduce a major change in legislation to assert more control over powerful Big Tech firms.

The Indian government also warned that ‘double standards of social media will not be acceptable, with some of the affected social media companies including OTT streaming services, digital news outlets, among others.

The government’s warning went out to all social media platforms operating in the country.

Addressing a press conference, Union Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad detailed some of the strict oversight mechanism for social media companies, including a robust grievance mechanism besides measures for speedy redressal.

Concerns have been raised about rampant abuse of social media platforms, the spread of fake news, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, adding that social media intermediaries have to appoint a grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours.

Content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women have to be removed in 24 hours. A grievance redressal official must be resident in India and monthly compliance reports have to be filed by social media platforms, said Prasad.

Social media platforms on being asked by court or government will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischief information, he added.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar Prakash Javadekar then spoke about the new rules concerning OTT platforms operating in the country.

Highlighting the misuse of social media in the country, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government wants social media platforms operating in the country to introduce a mechanism for better verification of users. Prasad said that the “significant social media” rules need to be implemented within three months.

“Social media platforms upon being asked either by a court order or a govt authority will be required to disclose the first originator of mischievous tweet or message as the case may be,” Prasad said.

“Double standards of social media will not be acceptable,” Ravi Shankar Prasad added during his speech.

Under the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the government plans to mandate social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to erase contentious content as early as possible, but no later than 36 hours, after a government or legal order.

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