Technology company Google on Tuesday said it aims to “comply with local laws” in India, PTI reported. The comment came close on heels of a similar statement issued by social media giant Facebook. The two companies sought to clarify their stand as Tuesday marked the end of the three months’ deadline set by the Centre for complying with its new information technology rules.
A Google spokesperson on Tuesday said that the company respected “India’s legislative process”, and cited its “long history” of responding to government requests by removing content that violated local laws and product policies of the company.
“We have consistently invested in significant product changes, resources, and personnel to ensure that we’re combating illegal content in an effective and fair way, and in order to comply with local laws in the jurisdictions that we operate in,” the spokesperson said, adding that Google will continue to evolve its policies and be transparent about its decisions.
The statement issued by Google was in behalf of all platforms owned by the company, including video streaming website YouTube.
A sweeping set of rules were issued on February 25 to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content. The new rules will virtually bring these platforms, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.
Among other things, the “Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021”, the regulations mandated that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Signal and Facebook will now have to give details about the origin of a tweet or a message on being asked by either a court or a government authority. The regulation also requires social media companies to set up a three-tier grievance redressal framework.
With hours to go before the three-month deadline mandated by the information and technology ministry was set to expire, reports emerged on Tuesday that social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were yet to comply with the rules. Facebook and Google then came up with their respective statements. However, Twitter is yet to comment on the matter.
The government is likely to seek reports from the companies to check if they have complied with the rules. In case they have not, the social media companies may lose their status and protections as intermediaries and may become liable for criminal action, MoneyControl reported, citing unidentified officials. Section 79 of the Information Technology Act gives social media intermediaries immunity from legal prosecution for content posted on their platforms, according to The Indian Express.