Union minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Sunday said that the new information technology rules would empower social media users.
“Reviewed the implementation and compliance of Information Technology Rules, 2021 along with my colleague Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar ji,” said Vaishnaw on social media platform Koo. “These guidelines are empowering and protecting users and will ensure a safer and responsible social media ecosystem in India.”
This was the Union information technology minister’s first post on social media platform Koo, a lookalike of Twitter developed by a Bengaluru-based startup.
The new IT rules are a sweeping set of regulations – which were announced in February and became effective in May – framed to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content, virtually bringing them, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.
Under the new rules, social media platforms with over 50 lakh users also need to appoint chief compliance officers in order to make sure the rules are followed, nodal officers to coordinate with law enforcement agencies. All the personnel have to be based in India.
Vaishnaw’s statement came amid the Centre’s standoff with Twitter over the new rules. The central government and Vaishnaw’s predecessor in the ministry, Ravi Shankar Prasad, have repeatedly criticised Twitter for not complying with the new regulations.
On July 5, the government told the Delhi High Court that Twitter had lost its “safe harbour immunity” because of that. This means that Twitter will be stripped of the protection social media websites have against legal proceedings for unlawful content posted by users if the court accepts the Centre’s submission.
A day later, the Delhi High Court had pulled up the company for not appointing a grievance officer. “If Twitter thinks it can take as long it wants in our country, I will not allow that,” Justice Rekha Palli had said.
However, later in the week, the social media platform said it has appointed a resident grievance officer for India as mandated under the new information technology rules. Twitter also published its compliance report for the period from May 26, 2021, to June 25, 2021. This is another key requirement under the new guidelines.
The row between the United States company and authorities in India escalated after the police filed four cases against Twitter in less than a month. Former Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had claimed that Twitter was deliberately defying the law.