A number of news reports yesterday suggested that because of non-compliance with the Information Technology Rules 2021, platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook face a ban in the country. The IT Rules come into force for social media platforms today, the 26th of May 2021, exactly 3 months after they were issued. A few points to note: 1. Not just Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: To be classified as a Significant Social Media intermediary, platforms need to have over 5 million registered users, and "which primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its service” This broad and subjective definition is such that it ensnares not just the intended targets — social media platforms — but also business messaging/video services such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and so on. It perhaps includes ad networks; the comments part of the Times of India; the collaboration part of Google Docs, Google Forms, YouTube comments, and so much more. 2. Platforms won't get banned because it will result in legal action: No part of the IT Rules allow the government to ban the platforms. That aside, the IT Rules 2021 are on a weak footing — they go beyond the scope of the IT Act, and a subordinate legislation cannot do what the parent act doesn't allow it to do. It is being used for enforcement when the rules are supposed to merely specify due…
Why the IT Rules 2021 won’t lead to a ban on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, but the power imbalance between government, platforms and users needs to be fixed
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