“Taking cognizance of the rapid technological changes and innovation in the technology, this Ministry has initiated identification of gap areas in the existing Information Technology Act, 2000. The extent of changes required and the Ministry’s response to the changes has not been worked out as yet. The Ministry is continuously engaged in identifying gaps in the current laws including IT Act, 2000,” he said.
Answering a question on social media, Vaishnaw said that while the government has not set up any committee to watch social media in order to ensure accountability of social media platforms to users and enhanced user safety, the government has notified the 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 intermediaries including the significant social media intermediaries. “These Rules empower users and make the intermediary platform accountable for timely redressal of grievances received. They are also expected to remove any unlawful content as and when brought to their knowledge either through a court order or through a notice by the Appropriate Government or its authorised agency,” he said.
Significant social media intermediaries including Facebook, Google (YouTube), Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, ShareChat, Telegram, Koo, MyGov etc., have informed the ministry about their commitment to comply and/or compliance with the rules. They have also shared the list of key officers for addressing the complaints. “However, MeitY does not keep a register of intermediaries including social media platforms as the same is not mandated in the IT Act or the Rules therein,” he said.
On a specific question on Twitter, Vaishnaw said that on May 26, Twitter was non-compliant of these rules because it did not appoint key functionaries including Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and the Resident Grievance Officer. “The issue of labelling of user tweets as manipulated media does not come under the purview of above said Rules. Further, on the issue of manipulated media, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has pointed out to Twitter that they are violating the principle of natural justice and urged Twitter to be transparent and equitable in applying the criteria.”
“As per Twitter, the labelling of certain messages as ‘Manipulated Media’ has been done as per their “Synthetic and Manipulated Media Policy”. However, no specific details of how this policy became applicable have been shared. Government has been engaged with Twitter on this issue,” Vaishnaw added.