The much-talked about Intermediary Guidelines to make social media and internet platforms accountable will be delayed as the Law Ministry wants them to be compatible with the Data Protection Bill, which is at present with the Joint Parliamentary Committee.

The draft Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines was formulated in 2018 to amend laws to make social media and Internet platforms accountable by making them offer time-bound assistance to any government agency, provide for traceability and deploy tech-based automated tools to identify and remove public access to unlawful information.

Sources close to the development told BusinessLine that the Law Ministry is of the opinion that no changes should be contemplated, which might come under scrutiny later.

“The government (Law Ministry) is of the opinion that any changes in guidelines should be applicable to all intermediaries irrespective of the nature of functioning,” a senior government official said.

The official said that the Law Ministry is also now thinking of making a distinction between active social media (like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter) and non-active portals (e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal) in the guidelines.

Active Vs non-active sites

While the active sites will be included in the upcoming guidelines, the non-active sites may come under a separate section later, the official said.

Also, as part of the active portals, the content providers which do not have a registered office in India yet will have to set up a registered office here so that they can be held accountable for any wrongdoing.

“The companies operating must have a registered office here and a grievance officer so that if there is any unwanted content doing the rounds, a trace can be run to find the background and book the culprits at the earliest,” a top government official said.

Earlier in 2018, the government had also asked WhatsApp to set up a registered office in India and also appoint a grievance officer for a quicker response and to prevent misuse of the app. Another reason was also for it to start its payment services in India, it has to have an office in the country.

Meanwhile, the Law Ministry and the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) are also in constant touch for the last one month, discussing the draft rules on Intermediary Guidelines.