India makes social media platforms accountable
India on Thursday rolled out new regulations for social media companies and digital streaming websites to make them more accountable for the content shared on their platforms, giving the government more power to police it.
The Information Technology Ministry said the new regulations would require social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to swiftly erase content authorities deem unlawful. The regulations include a strict oversight that would allow the government to ban content affecting “the sovereignty and integrity of India.”
The regulations would also require companies to assist investigations by law enforcement agencies. They were announced as debate swirls over free speech and the suspension by Twitter of some Indian accounts linked to farmers’ protests after regulators ordered them blocked.
Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new regulations were a “soft touch progressive institutional mechanism” required for the “security and sovereignty of India, public order, and rape or any other sexually explicit material.”
They will require social media companies to remove illegal content as quickly as possible, within no more than 36 hours.
The new rules also require social media platforms to appoint chief compliance and grievance officers to handle complaints from law enforcement agencies. These officers should be Indian citizens and must send monthly compliance reports to the government.
“The government welcomes criticism and the right to dissent, but it is very important that the users must be given a forum to raise their grievances against the abuse and misuse of social media,” Prasad said.