New Delhi: The Indian government on Thursday announced new rules to curb misuse of social media platforms, as it mandated firms to appoint grievance officers, disclose the first originator of the mischievous information and remove, within 24 hours, content depicting nudity or morphed pictures of women.
Concerns have been raised about rampant abuse of social media platforms and spread of fake news and the government is bringing in a "soft touch" regulation, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while announcing the new guidelines.
As per the new rules, social media intermediaries have to appoint grievance officers, who shall register complaints in 24 hours. The grievance redressal official must be resident in India, and monthly compliance reports will have to be filed by social media platforms.
Social media platforms on being asked by court or government will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous information.
It was not immediately clear if this would mean messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Signal and others would have to break end-to-end encryption in India in order to comply.
Prasad said the new regulations were a "soft touch progressive institutional mechanism" required for the "security and sovereignty of India, public order, and rape or any other sexually explicit material."
"The government welcomes criticism of the government and the right to dissent, but it is very important that the users must be given a forum to raise their grievances against the abuse and misuse of social media," Prasad said during a televised news conference.
The new regulations are to take effect within three months. They also will apply to digital streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, which will have to set a "classification rating" to describe the content on their platforms.
Twitter found itself in a standoff with the government earlier this month when it refused to fully comply with a government order to remove some accounts, including those of news organisations, journalists, activists and politicians, citing its "principles of defending protected speech and freedom of expression."
The government said the accounts - unspecified in number - were using provocative hashtags to spread misinformation about massive farmer protests.