The government on Wednesday wrote to major social media platforms on whether they had complied with new digital rules taking effect on the day and asked for their response “ASAP, preferably today”.
In the letter to all social media platforms, the IT ministry has sought details and contact information of Chief Compliance Officer, Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person who have been appointed by digital platforms under the new social media rules.
Platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter were given three months to comply with the new rules that require them to appoint a compliance officer in India, set up a grievance response mechanism and take down content within 36 hours of a legal order.
In a note to ‘significant social media intermediaries’, the IT Ministry said the additional due diligence required from such large digital platforms has come into effect from Wednesday.
The ministry has sought details and contact information of Chief Compliance Officer, Resident Grievance Officer and Nodal Contact Person who have been appointed by digital platforms under the new social media rules, as per the note seen by PTI.
The note from the Ministry of Electronics and IT asked the companies to give information on the status of compliance and stressed: “Please confirm and share your response ASAP and preferably today itself.”
A day after WhatsApp filed a lawsuit in the Delhi High Court challenging the new digital rules on grounds that the requirement for the company to provide access to encrypted messages will break privacy protections, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new norms will not impact normal functioning of the popular free-messaging platform.
The requirement of tracing origin of messages under new IT rules is for prevention and investigation of “very serious offences” related to sovereignty and integrity of India and security of the state, a statement from his ministry said.
Non-compliance with rules would result in these social media companies losing their intermediary status that provides them exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.
The new IT rules also require significant social media intermediaries — providing services primarily in the nature of messaging — to enable identification of the “first originator” of information that undermines sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order.