As soon as the time given by the central government to all the social media sites/apps to implement the new Intermediary Guidelines completed on May 25, the rumours of all the social media handles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram getting banned spread across the country like a wild fire.
Every body is taking about this bann, people and pages are sharing posts and memes, but how much do we know about these new Social Media Guidelines?

The Information Technology ( Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules ), 2021 was notified on February, 25. These rules will come into effect from 26 May, 2021 and if any social media company doesn’t obey they may loose their status and protection accorded to them under section 79 of the information technology act which gives them an intermediary status and may become liable for criminal action based laws of the land.

The deadline to meet these guidelines, which includes creating system to deal with grievances by users and monitoring harmful content ends on 25 May and failure to comply will be dealt strictly.

The new rules insisted on these platforms to appoint a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person of Indian residence. It also mandated major social media intermediaries (with over 50 lakh users) to have a physical contact adress in India published on its website or mobile application or both.

Swift grievance redressal mechanism within 15 days and active monitoring of harmful content using automated tools and removal/disabling access to content are also part of the mandate. The sites are also required to publish a month-end compliance report on same on a monthly basis.

The point to note is that why appointment of three persons namely resident grievance officer, the chief compliance officer and nodal contact person of Indian residence should take more than 3 months? Moreover people who are victims of social media have suffered practical abuse because they do not know whom to approach in social media in absence of any public information which can be solved with a permanent adress in the country and by creating a help desk.

There has been criticism of this guideline too, especially with respect to breaking encryption for messaging apps like whatsapp.

“A significant social media intermediary providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable the identification of the first originator of the information as may be required by judicial order passed by a court of competent jurisdiction” the rule reads. That would mean compromising the end to end encryption and also concerns around privacy.

The experts had said that there will be no checks and balances without the implementation of the personal data protection Bill which gives the citizens the right to question government on using their personal sensitive information. While the rules have addressed key issues, there is no denying that they will give the government more control over how they use the data of citizens without policy safeguards.

Till now the Indian version of Twitter ‘KOO’ and ‘FACEBOOK’ group have complied themselves with the new Intermediary Guidelines.

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