The new IT rules that were published by the government of India comes into effect on Wednesday, May 26, and directly impacts social media companies operating in India. With the likes of Facebook and Twitter having massive presence in India, the deadline seemingly puts the companies at risk of being banned in the country. However, there has been no clarity or official announcements from the central government regarding whether they would seek to impose a ban on platforms that are accessed by crores in India everyday. On this note, a Facebook spokesperson has seemingly hinted that while the company does “aim to comply” with the new IT rules, it would likely only do so after clarifying “issues which need more engagement with the government.”
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, “We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform.” Specific questions addressed to Facebook India by News18 remained unanswered at the time of publishing of the story.
When News18 reached out to Twitter, a Twitter India spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. The new IT rules had underlined that each social media company with over 5 million active users in India will have to appoint a grievance redressal officer, a nodal contact person and a chief compliance officer – all based in the country itself. While the nodal contact officer will serve as the first point of contact and company representative to the Indian government, the chief compliance officer will be charged with ensuring that companies remain aligned with the laws of the land. The grievance redressal officer, meanwhile, will be required to address all grievances filed by users within 24 hours, and issue a response to it within 15 days.
The rules further state that in case of a ban on content or accounts, each social media company will be required to inform all involved parties regarding the ban imposed and the underlying decision and rationale behind such bans. Officials with the Indian government have stated that social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter have repeatedly hidden behind their hierarchy being based in USA, and claimed that such a situation is inadequate for companies that have such massive presence in the country. The new IT rules were published on February 25, with an initial deadline of three months to comply with it.