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India’s Twitter is in panic amid rumors that Twitter and Facebook will be banned following the adoption of a new set of information technology rules.
In late February, the companies were given three months to comply with the new directive.
They were warned that failure to comply could result in them losing their status as content “intermediaries” – and thus losing the legal protections they enjoy over the content posted on their platforms.
No one of Twitter Facebook or Instagram has so far complied with the new rules, which prompted speculation they might be suspended from their operations.
The government has yet to say whether it will extend the deadline, but the sites were still up as of Wednesday afternoon.
According to the government, the guidelines make platforms more accountable and responsible for the content they host.
A grievance redressal mechanism is required by the rules for social media companies to handle complaints from users.
The guidelines also require social media firms to appoint a chief compliance officer to ensure compliance with Indian laws, as well as a named contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and an in-house grievance officer.
Nikhil Pahwa says:
Medianama founder Nikhil Pahwa, an expert on India’s technology policies, wrote in a thread on Tuesday that even if the deadline does not get extended, India is “unlikely to enforce all the provisions and hold platforms to account unless it needs to, because the platforms could then move the court to challenge the guidelines”.
“The government wouldn’t want to give platforms reason to go to court because these rules are so majorly unconstitutional that they won’t want to risk embarrassment in courts. The rules are already being challenged on such grounds,” he tweeted.
The Indian foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is in the US at the moment to meet with the Biden administration; there are therefore no chances that his government will block internet platforms based in the US.
Meanwhile, The Hindu reported on Tuesday that a Facebook spokesperson said that they aim to “comply with the IT rules and continue to engage with the government regarding a few of the issues”.
We are implementing operational processes and improving efficiencies to comply with the IT Rules. “Facebook strives to provide people on its platform with the freedom and security to express themselves,” a spokesperson said.
Social media law-suits:
In contrast, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court against the new rules, calling them unconstitutional, a violation of people’s privacy rights, and in contradiction with the concept of end-to-end encryption.
Industry groups in India have also requested the government to give social media firms more time to comply with the guidelines.
Though the government has not publicly discussed banning such platforms, rumors gained traction after Delhi Police members served a notice to Twitter a few days ago.
As a result of the police visit, the platform flagged some tweets by the ruling BJP party as “manipulated media”.
Opposition parties characterized it as a government attempt to intimidate Twitter.