The deadline of the central government’s IT compliance policies for the tech giants yesterday caused a great storm amongst the companies. While Twitter was served a stern message when Delhi Police paid a visit to its office, a flustered Facebook took pre-emptive measures and announced that it was ready to comply with the provisions of the IT rules.
“We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying by ANI.
Reported by TFI, social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, and Twitter run the risk of losing their status as “intermediaries” and may become liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised regulations. India has fixed five million registered users as the threshold for defining a significant social media intermediary. The government had announced the policy change in February earlier this year and the deadline granted was May 25, which elapsed yesterday.
The sweeping changes in the policy include the compulsion for the aforementioned companies to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
While Mark Zuckerberg gave up his one entity Facebook to satisfy the government’s wrath, the billionaire on the same day used his other platform WhatsApp to lodge a case against the Indian government. According to news reports, Facebook-owned WhatsApp filed a case in the Delhi High Court on Tuesday, May 25, seeking a stay on the compliance policy.
In its plea, it is learnt WhatsApp is invoking the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India case to argue that the traceability provision is unconstitutional and against people’s fundamental right to privacy as underlined by the Supreme Court decision.
Meanwhile, as reported by TFI extensively, the centre’s message to Twitter is clear – if you decide not to comply with the laws in India, we will not hesitate to take you down. Today, it might be the Twitter offices, but we will not shy away from coming knocking on the doors of your India executives’ homes.
The Narendra Modi government has realised that Twitter’s commitment is to destabilise the present establishment and to target the tremendous conservative ecosystem of the country. The Jack Dorsey owned platform has so far not agreed to comply with the new policy change and it will be interesting to see where the tussle between the government and Twitter is headed.