The Social Media users are said to Lose their Anonymity in IndiaSocial Media

February 13, 2020 14:31
The Social Media users are said to Lose their Anonymity in India

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The controversial new rules for social media companies and messaging apps that are expected to be published later this month says that the identities of the users of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and TikTok have to be revealed if asked by the agencies of the Indian government.

This requirement has been made as the governments around the world are trying to hold the companies of the social media as being more accountable for the content which circulates on their platforms like the fake news or child porn or a racist invective or any content that relates to terrorism.

It has been said that the new guidelines of India would go further when compared to most of the countries by requiring blanket cooperation with the government inquiries with no requirement of warrant or judicial orders.

The guidelines has been proposed by India in the month of December in the year 2018 and had asked the public to comment regarding the same. It had been responded by the Internet and Mobile Association of India which is a trade group that counts Facebook Inc., Inc. And the Alphabet Inc.’s Google among its several other members saying that doing so would violate the right of privacy which had been recognized by the Supreme Court.

A government official who is familiar with the matter says that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is expected in publishing the new rules later in this month with no major changes.

N.N. Kaul who is the media adviser to the minister of electronics and information technology has said that the guidelines regarding the intermediaries are under process and no changes or comments on the guidelines can be made until they are published.

According to the earlier draft, the provisions that have been mentioned required platforms such as Google’s YouTube or ByteDance Inc.’s TikTok, Facebook or Instagram and WhatsApp apps to extend their help to the government in order to trace the origins of a post within 72 hours of a request. It has also been said that the companies would have to preserve their records for at least 180 days in order to aid the government investigators, to establish a brick- and- mortar operation in India and also to appoint both the grievance officer to deal with user complaints and also a government liaison where as the language and the content are still being finalized by the ministry.

The rules that are being made are said to cover all the social media and the messaging apps with more than 5 million users in India because, as per the records India has a population of around 1.3 billion people out of which 500 million are said to be internet users. However, it is not clear whether the identities of the foreign users would be subjected to the inquiries that would be made by the government of India.

The government had made a request to WhatsApp to provide the information of its users in order to find out the root start of the false report of a rampant child abduction and also about an organ harvesting which had been circulated widely through WhatsApp in the years of 2017 and 2018. WhatsApp has refused to provide the origins as it was a promise of privacy and end- to- end encryption that has been made by WhatsApp to its 400 million users of India.

WhatsApp had instead offered to fund research which would prevent the fake news being spread and also to educated the public by organizing campaigns in the country.

The government official has also mentioned that companies such as Mozilla or Wikipedia would not get under the new rules that are being made and it had been said that only social media platforms and messaging apps fall under the new rules where as the new rules that re being made are also exempted to the browsers, operating systems and online repositories of knowledge, software development platforms.

By Shrithika Kushangi

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