No proposal to appoint regulator for social media, says Prasad

New Delhi, Mar 17 (PTI):
The government on Wednesday informed Parliament that there is no proposal with the IT ministry to set up a regulator for social media. Union IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, said that the government has released Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, under the IT Act that specifies the due diligence to be followed by all the intermediaries, including the social media intermediaries.
“The social media platforms are enjoined to develop a robust grievance redressal system. Presently, there is no proposal with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to appoint a regulator for social media,” Prasad informed the Lok Sabha.
The government in February had announced sweeping regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter as well as OTT players such as Netflix, requiring them to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours and setting up a complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country. The guidelines also make it mandatory for platforms such as Twitter and WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message that authorities consider to be anti-national and against security and sovereignty of the country.
The new rules related to social media platforms are to be handled by the IT ministry while the Information and Broadcasting ministry will look after content related issues on entertainment apps and online news portals.
Prasad said under provision of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the government blocks unlawful and malicious online content including social media account, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above.
“Under this provision, 9,849 URLs, accounts, webpages, mostly on social media platforms, were blocked during the year 2020,” Prasad said.

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