Plans by the Indian government to introduce changes to how online content is policed may only apply to major social media platforms.

In 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) proposed to amend the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000 to make social media firms more accountable for the content that they host.

The rules also define these key points for the entities to operate in India:

  • Set up an office in the country with a senior executive that can address and take responsibility for any legal issues.
  • Deploy automated “tools for proactively identifying and removing or disabling public access to unlawful information or content”.
  • Remove flagged content within 24 hours and provide user data requested by the government within 72 hours.

India’s current IT Act 2000 exempts any online entity from liability for content posted by users on their platforms. This sub-section in existing rules has allowed companies like Google and Facebook to grow exponentially in the country and enjoy “safe harbour”.

Additionally, the draft proposal also categorised any digital entity with more than five million users as intermediaries, a relatively easy number for most platforms to hit with over 627 million internet users in India.

However, according to a report by the Economic Times, an unnamed government official said the content takedown rules will only apply to major firms. Although there is no specification of what’s the definition of a ‘major firm’ in the context of the upcoming rules.

“The rules are meant only for social media content and, therefore, other e-commerce or streaming technology firms such as Amazon and Netflix must not worry about content takedown, traceability and grievance officer,” the official said.

Facebook, YouTube and TikTok are among the companies expected to be impacted by the amendments to the guidelines.

Open-source companies including GitHub and Mozilla have recently appealed to the government to scale back on its monitoring and traceability demands defined in the 2018 draft.

The government is set to present the new set of rules to the supreme court on January 15.

Sourced from Economic Times, The Next Web