New Delhi, February 11
Amid a raging war with Twitter which has refused to block several “incendiary” accounts despite notices from the IT ministry, the government today said it was revisiting the guidelines on social media.
Minister of Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new guidelines would soon be made public and work was in progress. These would also address privacy issues, he assured.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha earlier, the Minister warned Twitter, Facebook and others against violating Indian laws if they wished to do business here.
“What kind of a joke is this?” We have flagged this to Twitter and IT officers are in touch with them. When the Capitol Hill is ransacked and the US police take action, the micro-blogging site stands with them. And when Red Fort in India is attacked, the same site stands against law enforcement agencies. These double standards are not acceptable. “
Prasad said the Indian Constitution guaranteed freedom of expression, but Article 19 (A) mentioned reasonable restrictions to this right in matters of national security and sovereignty.
“We respect the social media. We also respect the right to criticize. You can criticize anyone from the PM to the ministers. That is part of the Constitution but if social media is used to spread fake news, violence and disaffection, there will be strong action. If someone misuses social media to manipulate elections through corrupt means, action will be taken. We wish to tell Twitter, FB or LinkedIn or WhatsApp – work in India, you have crores of followers here. Make money but you will have to follow the Indian Constitution and laws, ”Prasad said in PM Narendra Modi’s presence during the Question Hour.
The draft guidelines Prasad mentioned, meanwhile, seek to regulate social and digital media, including over the top (OTT) platforms and web-based news portals.
These speak of a self-regulatory system with a code of ethics (as in case of TV channels), a compliance officer to respond to concerns flagged by law enforcement agencies, timely submission of compliance reports by social and digital media players, a grievance redressal structure and powers to bureaucracy to act in emergencies within 48 hours should the platform in question refuse to comply.
The minister also flagged violent content being peddled by social media. – TNS