A set of Central rules to regulate digital content featuring a code of ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework come into effect from tommorow (26 May) without any of the social media giants — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — complying to any of it, government sources said. The rules for news sites and OTT platforms were announced in February and they were given three months to comply. Sources said if the companies fail to follow the rules, their intermediary status can be ended and they may be subject to criminal action.
With just two days to go to comply with the new norms for significant as per social media intermediaries, barring Koo, none of players including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have complied with the new regulations that require them to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person said. The government had given the firms three months to comply fulfil the requirements with the deadline set to expire on Wednesday.
However, most of the US-based companies sought more time as their Indian representatives are waiting for a response from the US headquarters on how to go about this.
The rules include appointment of compliance officials, giving their name and contact address in India, complaint resolution, monitoring of objectionable content, compliance report and removal of objectionable content. So far, no company except for one has reportedly appointed any such officials.
Although some of the platforms had sought six months, the government currently does not appear in any mood to relent. Their failure to comply with the norms opens the global giants to lose their status and protections as intermediaries and also makes them liable for criminal action, sources said. While Twitter declined to comment, Facebook did not respond to a query from TOI.
Rules also have a provision to set up an oversight mechanism by the government, which includes a committee with representatives from the ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home, I&B, Law, IT and Women and Child Development.
The committee will have suo motu powers to call hearings on complaints of the violation of the Code of Ethics if the panel desires.
Notifying the rules on February 25, the Electronics & Information Technology ministry gave a three-month deadline to social media platforms to comply with the new rules. The window ends on May 25.
The government is of the view that so many issues posted on these platforms, however, the public were not aware of whom to approach in case of any redressal or to flag any objectionable matter posted.