India Asks Social Media Firms If They Have Followed New Regulations – TechCrunch
India has asked social media companies to provide an update on whether they have complied with the new IT rules “as soon as possible” and “preferably today”, even though the new rules are being legally challenged by WhatsApp.
In a letter to “major social media intermediaries” – which New Delhi defines as a social media company with over 5 million registered users in India – the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asked companies to name their apps on Wednesday , Websites or services that fall under the scope of the new IT rules and the status of their compliance.
The letter received from TechCrunch also requests companies to provide the names and contact details of the Chief Compliance Officer, Node Contact Person, and Resident Complaints Officer they have appointed as part of compliance in India, as well as the physical address of the local office. The new rules, unveiled in February this year, require companies to have multiple officials in India to address concerns on the ground.
The letter also implies that India has no plans to extend the deadline, which expires on Wednesday, for social media firms to comply with the new regulations. “The additional due diligence required of SSMI [significant social media intermediaries] took effect today for SSMIs after an additional three months, ”it said. Shortly after the new IT rules were published, India asked companies to comply with them within three months.
“If you are not considered an SSMI, please state the reasons for doing so, including the registered users for each of the services you provide,” the letter reads. “The government reserves the right to obtain additional information as permitted by these rules and IT law.”
On Wednesday, WhatsApp sued the Indian government against the new regulations of the second largest internet market, which could enable the authorities to make private messages of people “traceable” and to carry out mass surveillance.
In recent months, tensions have been building up between American tech giants and the Indian government. Earlier this year, Twitter refused to block accounts criticizing New Delhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Last month, the Indian government ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to remove posts criticizing Modi’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, New Delhi objected to Twitter calling some politicians’ tweets as manipulated media. This week, Delhi police visited Twitter offices to make “a notice” of an investigation into their information regarding the classification of politicians’ tweets as misleading.
“Big tech like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google often make terrible policies and decisions that often harm millions of Indians. All of us at IFF are consistently advocating user rights-based regulations with our authorities that will help resolve them, ”said the New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group, the Internet Freedom Foundation, in a statement.
“We firmly believe that the Mediation Rules do not solve these outstanding problems, suffer from significant flaws in procedural and material legality and end up violating your rights and the innovation that makes the Internet so special and exciting. Today more than ever we have to go a path that is guided by experts and the values of the Indian Constitution. “