Major social media and communication platforms such as Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, ShareChat, LinkedIn and Telegram have reportedly complied with the regulatory requirement of appointing chief compliance officers and other grievance redressal personnel, while Twitter is yet to fully comply.
In response to a Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) request to provide information about compliance with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, most major social media intermediaries have shared details of their compliance status with the exception of Twitter. The microblogging platform is yet to submit details about its chief compliance officer, according to a Business Standard report, which cited unnamed sources within the ministry.
Earlier this week, the IT ministry had written to all social media firms to submit a compliance status with the new IT rules. Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Sharechat, Telegram, LinkedIn and Koo are said to have shared details of their chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and grievance officer. These are some of the significant social media intermediaries — platforms with over 5 Mn users — as defined by the rules.
Such websites and apps are required to appoint chief compliance officers, resident grievance officers and other employees specifically to deal with the requirements under the law.
Twitter Slow To Comply With IT Rules
As per the sources quoted by BS, Twitter shared details of a lawyer from an Indian law firm as its nodal contact person and grievance officer. However, the guidelines state that such designated officers must be employees of the company and resident in India. “Twitter has not yet sent the details of the Chief Compliance Officer to the Ministry,” the source was quoted as saying.
Amid a row between the government and social media companies over the new information technology rules, Twitter said on Thursday it would “strive to comply” with the law but voiced concerns over “the use of intimidation tactics by the police” and “potential threat to freedom of expression”. The statement came from the company’s global policy account.
This led to a sharp retort from the government, which termed it “an attempt to dictate its terms to the world’s largest democracy” and asked Twitter to stop “beating around the bush” and comply with the law.
Twitter had also said it was also concerned by recent events regarding its employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people it serves. “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules,” the spokesperson added.
A day after Twitter pitched for a constructive dialogue with the Indian government, a petition was filed in the Delhi High Court against the microblogging website over non-compliance with the said policy. The petition says that Twitter must perform its statutory and executive duties as a “significant social media intermediary”.
WhatsApp, on the other hand, has sued the Indian government over these policies as it would have to break its encryption in order to comply with certain aspects. WhatsApp has particularly raised objection over the clause that requires social media companies to share details of the “first originator of information” when authorities demand it.
“Civil society and technical experts around the world have consistently argued that a requirement to ‘trace’ private messages would break end-to-end encryption and lead to real abuse. WhatsApp is committed to protecting the privacy of users’ personal messages, and we will continue to do all we can within the laws of India to do so,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said.
As per a Guardian report, WhatsApp told the Delhi high court, “A government that chooses to mandate traceability is effectively mandating a new form of mass surveillance. In order to trace even one message, services would have to trace every message. There is no way to predict which message Indian government would want to investigate in the future.”
But the Indian government has denied claims of using the guidelines as a means to increase mass surveillance of citizens.