At a time when the new IT Rules framed by the Modi government is drawing flak from the opposition for allegedly being “draconian”, the government today announced it has no plans to block any social media platform in the country.
Following the introduction of the new IT Rules, the government found itself at loggerheads with social media platforms. It had kicked off an intense debate both online and offline about the government’s intent. Many had alleged that the government wanted to take over control of the social media space.
The Minister of State for IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, the government blocks malicious online content, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity, and defence of India, security of the state among other reasons.
The MP, however, clarified, “At present, the government has no plan to block any social media platform in the country.” He further added, “Indian democracy has its bedrock in its Constitution and constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights for every citizen. No social media platform or any other intermediary can destroy our democracy,” he added.
The new IT rules require large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to appoint a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer, monitoring of objectionable content, preparing monthly compliance reports and removing the objectionable content.
Non-compliance with the rules may lead to these social media platforms being liable for criminal action in case a complaint is lodged. Noting that the government receives various grievances from users about this type of hate content, Chandrasekhar said that it responded to them in an “appropriate way”.
The government regularly interacts with social media intermediaries on various issues including issuing advisories to make these intermediaries safe and accountable to users, the MP said.