Indian social media users may lose their anonymity soon


The government for some time has been working on rules and guidelines for social media and messaging apps.

The guidelines presented in the draft of 2018 demanded the platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook or Instagram or WhatsApp to help the government find the origins of the posts under question within 72 hours. The government also required the apps to preserve their posts for atleast 180 days. A grievance officer would be available at the users’ disposal if there were any complaints.

The government may be looking to revise the existing rules and guidelines for social media and messaging apps.

The government in October 2019 had told the Supreme Court that it would submit the revised rules for the existing controversial social media regulations.

Apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok rely on users to create their content. After the revised regulations, these apps will have to reveal the users’ identities if the government asks them to.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is expected to publish the new rules later this month without major changes, a government official told Bloomberg Quint.

The guidelines would require co-operation from companies during government interventions without any warrant or judicial order. It is still unclear if the identities of foreign users would be subject to Indian government’s inquiries.

However, the guidelines have not been released yet and are still under process.

World over, the governments are experiencing a requirement to hold social media accountable for content they publish. What comes into question is the violation of the right to privacy recognised by the Supreme Court of India. This was even questioned by Internet and Mobile association of India, when the government put these guidelines or public comment.

All intermediaries social media, and messaging apps would fall under these guidelines. According to a report by Indian Association of Mobile association of India (IAMAI), there 451 million internet users.

India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT has previously expressed its frustration on the Internet and on tech companies by saying that the internet has emerged as a tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.’ It said the revision of rules was required keeping in view the ever growing threats to individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty and security.

WhatsApp, on Wednesday, in a statement said that it will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe.

Some tech companies have also expressed their dissent by saying that the new rules are a burdensome requirement on new and growing companies. They have also said that the new rules are an invitation to abuse and censorship.

Mozilla, Wikipedia, browsers, operating systems, software development programmes would be exempt from the new rules and guidelines.


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