Social Media

Don’t take shelter under technicalities, Ravi Shankar to social media platforms

S Ronendra Singh / Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on June 06, 2021

Ravi Shankar Prasad   -  -

New rules will not impact ease of doing business: Electronics & IT Minister

Sending a clear message to social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Communications and Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, said: “Let us not take shelter in the name of technicalities.”

Prasad and his Ministry are in the midst of enforcing compliance by these platforms with the latest IT Rules for Intermediaries. While some of the players have accepted the norms, some are crying foul.

Other like Google are taking shelter under technical definitions — calling themselves a search engine — while YouTube says it is an intermediary.

Forum of redress

But the government is firm that any robust democracy that allows freedom of speech and expression, must also allow forums of redress, Prasad said in an interview to BusinessLine. “This is what these guidelines are,” he said.

Prasad dismissed talk about the Rules impacting the ease of doing business. “These are not the question of any image of a company. These are basically the rights of the users against misuse,” he said adding that the government was not asking much from these companies.

All that the government wants is there should be a local grievance officer and compliance officer. To appoint one such officer, the companies do not need a UPSC-type examination, he said.

Twitter vs Venkaiah

On the latest Twitter move to take off the verified blue tick from Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu’s personal handle, Prasad said, “for whatever reason, it is saddening and certainly not acceptable. Twitter or any social media must learn to respect the Constitution or political and leading public figures of the country. So many anonymous accounts exist but they don’t do anything about them.”

Content removal

On the concerns over removal of content, he said a condition in the Rules stipulates that the intermediary shall, within 24 hours from the receipt of a complaint made by an individual for any person on his behalf, take all reasonable tactical measures to remove/ disable access to such information. “That’s all we are asking,” he said.

If the companies make their rules user-friendly, the government is out of it. “They can earn good revenue (with which I have no dispute), but if any helpless/hapless victim is having an issue, should they go to America for redress. This scenario is clearly unacceptable,” he stressed.

Published on June 06, 2021

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