New amended rules may keep stricter guidelines only for social media firms
The Indian government is planning to keep the stricter regulations limited only to social media firms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. This comes as a relief to tech firms appealing for easier intermediary rules, as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) sees problems only with large messaging firms.
If the plan to amend the proposed rules is implemented, it will provide a huge relief to global technology and internet firms such as the Wikimedia Foundation which runs Wikipedia, and Amazon.
“It has been considering two-set of rules, stricter rules similar to the original intermediaries guideline proposals applying only to social media companies and other technology companies will face minimal and simple regulations,” said a Reuters report quoting government sources aware of the development.
A few guidelines would however stay in the new rules for both social media and other technology firms, added the report.
Foreign firms including GitHub, Mozilla and Cloudflare had earlier written on January 7th to the Indian government urging to be more transparent and open about its intermediary’s amendments.
“The blunt requirement for legal local incorporation of any services with more than 5 million users in India is a major operational obligation being imposed without justification nor a timeline for compliance. This raises fears of international companies, services, and nonprofits being forced to close themselves off to Indian users, while also deterring potential market expansion of new players into India,” the companies wrote in the letter, highlighting the proposed changes made by the Indian government in December 2018 to IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The originally proposed rules wanted the above-mentioned companies, including the social media firms, to develop automated tools to identify unlawful content, to appoint an officer for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement officials and take action against anti-social or inflammatory content within 24 hours. The government came out with these proposed rules to fight surging misinformation and fake news on the internet, messaging and social media platforms.
The final version of the amendments is still not made public and the Indian government is expected to submit the final draft of the proposal to the apex court by January 15.