New rules for social media and messaging app companies like to publish by government later this month
India’s controversial new rules for social media and messaging app companies which is likely to be published later this month asks to reveal user’s identity if Indian government agencies needs it.
The governments around the world are trying to hold social media companies more accountable for the content that circulates on their platforms, whether it’s fake news, child porn, racist invective or terrorism-related content and these give rise to this requirement. India’s new guidelines go further than most other countries’ by requiring blanket cooperation with government inquiries, no warrant or judicial order required.
India proposed these guidelines in Dec. 2018 and asked for public comment. The Internet and Mobile Association of India, a trade group which includes Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google among its members has responded that the requirements “would be a violation of the right to privacy recognized by the Supreme Court.”
But the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is expected to publish the new rules later this month without major changes, according to a government official familiar with the matter.
“The guidelines for intermediaries are under process,” said N.N. Kaul, the media adviser to the minister of electronics & information technology. “We cannot comment on the guidelines or changes till they are published.”
In the earlier draft’s provisions required platforms such as Google’s YouTube or ByteDance Inc.’s TikTok, Facebook or its Instagram and WhatsApp apps need to help the government trace the origins of a post within 72 hours of a request. The companies would also have to preserve their records for at least 180 days to aid government investigators, establish a brick-and-mortar operation within India and appoint both a grievance officer to deal with user complaints and a government liaison. The Ministry is still finalizing the language and content.
The rules cover all social media and messaging apps with more than 5 million users. India, with 1.3 billion people, has about 500 million internet users. It isn’t clear whether the identities of foreign users would be subject to the Indian government’s inquiries.
Law enforcement agencies around the world have been frustrated by tech companies that have refused to identify users, unlock devices or generally cooperate with government investigations, particularly in cases relating to terrorism.