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Where major social media platforms stand on compliance with IT Rules 2021

Major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube did not confirm if they are compliant with the IT Rules 2021 notified on February 25. The deadline to comply with the rules was yesterday (May 25), three months from the date of notification. While Facebook told MediaNama that it was working towards complying with the IT Rules, Google response was not specific (we’ve published a copy below), and Twitter declined to comment. We’re yet to receive a response from Microsoft and ShareChat.

Indian micro-blogging platform Koo appears to be the only private platform to have complied with the IT Rules 2020 so far. “As a company which is building an India-first product, user safety and convenience is of utmost importance and we deeply care about it. Complying with the new social media guidelines published by the Government of India within time clearly shows why it’s important to have Indian social media players thriving in the country,” Aprameya Radhakrishna, Co-Founder and CEO of Koo said in an email to MediaNama. MyGov.in, a government-run platform, has also appointed a Chief Compliance Officer, Grievance Officer and a Nodal Officer.

In search of a compliance officer

While we do not know where some of these platforms currently stand with regards to compliance, some of them are looking to hire a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), one of the roles mandated by the new rules.

Platforms that are currently searching for a CCO include Google and Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand, has not listed an opening for a CCO and we do not know if Facebook’s CCO will cover WhatsApp and Instagram as well.

The CCO’s role is arguably one of the most important and contentious aspects of the new rules because the CCO is not only responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules but is also liable to prosecution if the social media platform fails to ensure due diligence.  In addition to the CCO, platforms must also appoint a grievance officer and a nodal contact person, all of whom should be Indian residents.

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What does it mean for platforms that do not comply?

In contrary to the misinformation floating around, non-compliant social media platforms will not be banned in the country. While the new IT Rules come into effect today, there is no provision either in the rules or in the parent act that specifies a ban for platforms that are non-compliant.

The rules, however, specify that failure to comply will result in the intermediary losing safe harbour provisions guaranteed by Section 79(1) of the IT Act 2000, which exempt social media companies from liability for the content shared by its users.

But, it is unlikely that the government will enforce this immediately. The most likely scenario seems to be an extension to the deadline by the government. To know more about this issue, read our post on 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.

Responses received from social media platforms

MediaNama reached out to Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, enquiring about the status of their compliance, here are the responses we received so far. We will continue to update this post as we receive more responses.

Facebook: “We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform.”

Google (YouTube): “We respect India’s legislative process and have a long history of responding to government requests to remove content where the content violates the local law or our product policies. 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. We realize that our work in keeping our platforms secure is never done and we will continue to refine our existing approaches, and evolve our policies and be as transparent as possible about how we make decisions.”

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Twitter: Twitter responded saying that they decline to comment.

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MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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