Facebook and Twitter have a ton of new rules to abide by in India ⁠— WhatsApp may find itself in the toughest spot of all

Facebook and Twitter have a ton of new rules to abide by in India ⁠— WhatsApp may find itself in the toughest spot of all
The Indian government has announced new rules and regulations for social media plaforms like Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and othersUnsplash
  • Along with the rules, came a stern message from the Minister for IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who essentially told these platforms to brace for increased scrutiny and compliance.
  • WhatsApp will be in the toughest spot of all with the government mandating the tracking of ‘first originator’ or the ‘creator of mischief’, which would mean breaking the end-to-end encryption.
  • India also wants social media platforms to verify users’ identity, citing Aadhar or mobile numbers, as possible methods.
  • Check out the latest tech news and updates on Business Insider.
The Indian government just put out a whole lot of new rules for platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to abide by. Along with it, came a stern message from the Minister for IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who essentially told these platforms to brace for increased scrutiny and compliance.

“All social media is welcome, but — no disrespect — there should not be double standards,” said Prasad.

These new rules are applicable for “significant” social media intermediaries based on the number of users, which have not been specified yet. “We will be giving a window of three months of significant social media. And, the rest will come into effect from the day that these rules are notified,” noted Prasad.

Advertisement
Social media platformNumber of Indian users
WhatsApp530 million
YouTube448 million
Facebook410 million
Instagram210 million
Twitter17.5 million
Source: Government of India

The important changes are here as follows:
According to Prasad, social media intermediaries will have to appoint a grievance officer. They are required to register grievance complaints within 24 hours and address the issue within a space of 15 days.

Complaints against the dignity of users — those posts which include nudity, sexual acts, or impersonation — social media platforms will be required to remove that content within a span of 24 hours. “This provision is designed to respect the dignity of the users in India,” said Prasad.

Advertisement

‘Significant’ intermediaries will be required to have a chief compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a grievance officer — all three of whom are required to be residents of India.

OfficerResponsibility
Chief compliance officerResponsible for compliance of acts and the rules of the Government of India
Nodal contact personWill coordinate with law enforcement 24x7
Resident grievance officerPerson the redressal grievance mechanism as indicated for intermediaries
Source: Government of India

In addition to this, ‘significant’ social media intermediaries will also be required to publish a monthly compliance report. This will include how many complaints were received, how they were investigated, and how they were resolved at the end of the day.

Advertisement
“The chief compliance officer to be appointed under the guidelines may be personally liable in case of any non-compliance of IT Act or any rules,” noted Rajat Prakash, a partner at law firm Athena Legal.

The toughest rule of all puts WhatsApp in a spot
Whether it is fake news or any objectionable content, the government wants the social media platforms as well messaging apps to be able to track down the ‘first originator’.

“This first originator is not about the content, it's about who began the instigation,” explained Prasad. “If it started outside of India, they will have to track down who started the mischief within India.”
Advertisement

The request to share this information will be mandated either by a court order or executive order by the government of India.

It will also only apply to instances where the penalty (if the person is found guilty) exceeds five years. This includes instances where there is any violation with respect to the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, and rape or sexually explicit content.

“Further tracing of the originator of messages on messaging applications could lead to violation of privacy rights and fall foul of privacy laws of countries outside India and end to end encryption of messages will make it tough for messaging applications to comply,” noted Prakash.
Advertisement

Even though WhatsApp does not have a specific response to the government's new guidelines, Facebook told Business Insider that they welcome the new rules. "Facebook is an ally for India and the agenda of user safety and security is a critical one for our platforms," it told Business Insider in a statement.

Aadhaar or phone number for social media
The Indian government wants social media platforms to set up some sort of verification mechanism for its users for identification citing Aadhar or mobile numbers are possible methods.

“If there is any unlawful information on your platform, by court order or government of India, you will have to disable access of the user,” said Prasad, adding that it is for the platform to decide whether they want to use the person’s mobile numbers or Aadhaar (unique identity number given by the government).
Advertisement

SEE ALSO:
Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ Hotstar will now have to classify their content according to age in India

Facebook and Twitter have a ton of new rules to abide by in India ⁠— WhatsApp may find itself in the toughest spot of all

{{}}