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Government defends tightening social media regulations and expects Elon Musk to align

Government defends tightening social media regulations and expects Elon Musk to align

Government defends tightening social media regulations and expects Elon Musk to align
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By Ashmit Kumar  Oct 29, 2022 3:47:13 PM IST (Updated)

Under the amended IT rules, a social media company, referred to as an intermediary, must ensure that users do not post or share any information that does not belong to them.

The Indian government has defended the amendments to IT rules which were announced on Friday and played down concerns over censorship. In an exclusive interview with CNBC-TV18, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Rajeev Chandrasekhar, also had a message for the new CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk — align with Indian regulations.

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Under the amended IT rules, a social media company, referred to as an intermediary, must ensure that users do not post or share any information that does not belong to them.
The IT rules also put the onus on the intermediary to ensure content posted on its platform is not obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another's privacy, hate speech, promoting illegal activities or threatening "the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India".
When asked about Elon Musk's advocacy for free speech after taking over the reins at Twitter, Chandrasekhar said that the government will be unrelenting in seeking an alignment with the regulations in India.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s new owner billionaire Elon Musk has said the social media company will form a “content moderation council” and any major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen after such a body has convened.
The Minister of State also criticised social media companies for not following grievance redressal rules adding that it is currently "tokenism".
“In May 2021, the rules specify that every intermediary or every platform must appoint a grievance officer and the grievance officer would be the mechanism to create accountability between a digital consumer and his or her relationship with the platform. Unfortunately, that accountability solution has not worked because a lot of platforms have given short-shift to it and made it very token," he said.
Yesterday, the government notified in its Information Technology Rules, 2021, amendment that it will appoint grievance appellate committees (GACs) that will hear appeals against the content moderation decisions of social media and other intermediaries.
“Safety and trust rule has been rewritten. It now casts a very clear obligation on the platforms, for the type of content that they will allow on the platforms. We are very clear that content which is illegal, unlawful, pornography, anti-national, creates incitement and is false misinformation cannot be hosted on platforms. Conversely, platforms cannot be the witting and unwitting partners to a campaign of misinformation either by state or non-state actors," he said.
As per the amended rules, a grievance appellate committee will be set up to address the grievances of consumers if the internet platform fails to do so.
Chandrasekhar defended this decision saying that this rules out the government's power to censor content. He also dismissed the criticism that the new rules allow power to social media companies to censor content,  saying that removing child porn and misinformation is not censorship.
"Many internet platforms have still not appointed grievance redressal officers as mandated by the rules," he said.
Watch the full interview:
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