We are going full steam ahead with our India plans, says Facebook MD

Debangana Ghosh Mumbai | Updated on July 12, 2021

Ajit Mohan, MD and VP, Facebook India

Ajit Mohan hopes India will have positive regulatory framework for digital firms

Despite facing regulatory headwinds over the past few months, Facebook is in India for the long run and the company will have a useful role to play in the country’s economic and digital transformation, Facebook India’s Managing Director, Ajit Mohan, told BusinessLine. But he hopes India can emerge with a forward-looking and positive regulatory framework for digital companies to operate in.

Facebook’s messaging platform WhatsApp has been struggling to comply with the new IT rules, specifically the requirement to trace the originator of messages. WhatsApp has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging this requirement.

“We are going full steam ahead with our India plans and we continue to invest in the country. We are here for the long run, and we continue to believe that we have a useful role to play in India’s economic and digital transformation,” said Mohan.

“I’m hoping that India can emerge with a very forward-looking and positive regulatory framework for digital companies to operate in.”

WhatsApp traceability rule

Explaining why WhatsApp has challenged the traceability rule, Mohan said: “WhatsApp is built on end-to-end encryption technology, which means your personal chats with friends and family, including groups, are protected by end-to-end encryption.

“Requiring messaging apps like WhatsApp to trace chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermine people’s right to privacy.” Mohan said that Facebook agreed with the government’s overall direction to developed a framework for online platforms.

“I think it makes sense to have a framework for accountability and for having rules around harmful content.

“The government wants to limit the misuse and abuse of social-media platforms by bad actors, and that is an agenda that we are entirely aligned with. In fact, over the last few years, as a company, we have invested a lot in this area,” he said.

Mohan said that Facebook has been investing into ensuring the safety of its users and keeping harmful content off the platforms, even outside the new IT rules.

“We believe we have led the way on some of these efforts globally, and our commitment to the agenda of safety is sincere and real. We know that our work in this space will never be done. There will always be more to do, particularly as technology evolves and online behaviours change on an almost-daily basis.

“Our job, even outside of these IT rules, is to continue our investment to stay ahead of this challenge. Not just do the best we can but continue to show the leadership we have,” he said.

Compliance report

Recently, Facebook disclosed that it has removed nearly 30 million pieces of content across 10 different violation categories between May 15 and June 15. The disclosures are part of Facebook’s compliance report under the new IT rules.

The content that has been removed includes violations related to hate speech, bullying and harassment, adult nudity and harassment, terrorist propaganda, and spam.

More than 90 per cent of the content was removed through Facebook's AI system before any user reporting it

Published on July 11, 2021

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