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India’s New Social Media Rules

The Government of India has launched new guidelines or rules for social media platforms. The new rules call for identifying the ‘first originator’. The new rules apply to all social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube.

Personal messaging apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal need to track the origin of messages that contain wrong information, misleading, or against law and order of the country. Previously the messages were encrypted to provide privacy to the users. Now to track the origin of these messages, these apps need to break the end-to-end encryption. The social media platforms now will have a tough time maintaining the privacy and tracking the origin of the messages, which is a near-impossible task with the available technology. Personal messaging apps do not want to end the users’ privacy, which, otherwise, may result in many users leaving the apps.

The Government of India has no interest in seeing the contents and maintains that privacy is a fundamental right. “We don’t want the content because the content is already out there in the form of tweets or messages. But, who began the mischief? This, they (social media platforms) will have to disclose,” said the Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, while announcing India’s new IT rules on February 26.

The new rules also extend to over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Youtube, Netflix, etc. OTT platforms now need to follow a 3-tier regulation mechanism. The new rules also asked the OTT platforms to self-classify their content according to five groups based on age suitability.

Other social media like Facebook and Twitter should allow users to post what is allowable as per norms. Users can now file a complaint within 24 hours of receiving ‘objectionable’ content. Social media companies should appoint a Grievance Officer to resolve any issue quickly to deal with online complaints.

Information Technology Rules 2021 is undoubtedly a boon for most users who have previously been the victim of fake news or blackmailing content. However, it has become a severe headache for the IT social media giants to follow some issues. It may result in doing away with the privacy of contents, thus interfering with the users’ rights. Let’s see what plans the social media platforms and OTT platforms come up with.

To know more about the new Information Technology Rules click here.

Written by – Himadri Paul

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