Facebook India head Ajit Mohan has pushed for a unified global framework for internet regulations, to ensure that the internet remains open, connected and continues to drive innovation for the next 20 years. Speaking at the Global Technology Summit, 2020, organised by Carnegie India on Thursday (December 17), Mohan said the US, Europe and India should lead the process of the formulation of such a global framework.
“It makes sense for countries that are like-minded, countries that believe in democratic values, strong institutions, open societies… (to) think about creating an alliance of democracies. For me, the US, Europe, and India probably represent the three big poles of the Internet,” Mohan said.
Mohan’s comments come at a time when Facebook has been embroiled in a controversy about its apparent failure to pull down hateful content posted by the Bajrang Dal, an organisation affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to a Wall Street Journal report, internally, Facebook has discussed banning Bajrang Dal from the platform and called it a ‘dangerous organisation’ but no action was taken due to political and employee safety considerations.
However, recently, Facebook India representatives, headed by India Head Ajit Mohan, have said that its fact-checking team did not find anything offensive and inflammatory in the content posted by right-wing organisation Bajrang Dal. Therefore, Facebook decided to not take any action against it.
Earlier this year, Facebook India’s public policy head Ankhi Das was accused of not applying the organisation’s hate speech rules to members of the Indian government, who were affiliated with BJP. Das resigned in October.
“India and the world are at a stage where stakeholders across the board including governments are starting to think that while they have seen explosive innovation and recognise the benefit of the Internet, can they have a framework that governs the new rules of the Internet for the next five to 20 years,” Facebook head Mohan said at the summit on Thursday.
Recently, the Indian government brought digital news portals and OTT platforms under the ambit of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. While the government has said that regulation of content on digital platforms is important, considering the hitherto unregulated nature of the space, the move has also stoked fears of censorship of content that is critical of the government.