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What social media giants have to lose and why you should worry

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Social media platforms – Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter – only have a few hours left to comply with the government’s new IT regulations of 2021. If they do not follow the guidelines, they risk losing the “mediator” status. The new rules come into effect on May 26th.

Social media intermediaries were given three months to comply with India’s new information technology (IT) regulations announced in February.

Companies and users are very concerned about the possible functionality of these platforms and data security.

This can have serious consequences, including loss of legal immunity. Simply put, anyone who is dissatisfied with the content posted on these platforms can bring both the person posting the content and the social media company to court. However, the social media platforms can still be operated in the country.

While the government has labeled the new rules transparent and those needed to increase accountability, social media platforms have resisted the changes, citing the need for “free speech” and “fair communication”.

Who can be referred to as an “intermediary” under the new regulation?

According to part four of the amended IT rules, major social media intermediaries are required to appoint a compliance officer who is “responsible for compliance with the law and regulations” and “in all procedures relating to relevant information, data or data Third party is liable “. Communication link provided or hosted by this intermediary if it fails to ensure that that intermediary is exercising due diligence in performing its duties under the law ”.

Social media companies must remove posts with nudity or altered photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

What is a major social media broker and what are the benefits?

– Social media companies with more than 50 registered Lakh users are considered “Major Social Media Intermediaries” according to the new norms of the Intermediary Guidelines and the Code of Ethics for Digital Media of 2021.

– So far, intermediaries have not been obliged to pass on the content of a message or other information to the original sender.

What if they lose their immunity?

– If they lose their immunity as an intermediary, they are responsible for illegal content (e.g. obscene images or impersonation) in the same way as the person who publishes such content under the Indian Criminal Code.

– The loss of the intermediary status would mean that every user contribution on these platforms would be viewed as published by the companies and these would be made criminally liable for illegal content.

– As publishers, platforms must proactively censor content before it appears online – like China’s internet.

New IT rules, regulations that must be followed by social media platforms

1. Designate a chief compliance officer who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the law and rules. Such a person should be a resident of India.

2. Designate a Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person must be a resident of India.

3. Designate a resident complaints officer who will perform the functions specified in the complaints procedure. Such a person must be a resident of India.

4. Publish a monthly compliance report detailing the complaints received and actions taken, as well as details of content that has been proactively removed by the major social media intermediary.

However, the platforms continue to negotiate and are looking for six months to comply with the new rules. Aside from the local social media app Koo, none of the players including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have adhered to the new regulations.

The government also made it clear that no new arrangements had been made to give the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting new “emergency lockdown powers”.

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