New IT rules: Twitter holds out as Google and Facebook fall in line

Digital media companies start updating websites to reflect appointment of grievance officers under new regulations

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Digital and social media companies have started updating their websites to reflect the appointment of grievance officers under the Centre’s new IT rules, which came into effect last week.

Google, Facebook and WhatsApp have shared details with the IT ministry as per the new requirements, but Twitter is still holding out, government sources told PTI.

The new rules require social media companies – those with more than 50 lakh users – to appoint a grievance officer, nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. These personnel are required to be resident in India.

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Industry sources said Facebook and WhatsApp have already shared their compliance report with the Ministry of Electronics and IT, and that the details of the new grievance officers appointed are being updated to replace the existing information on these platforms.

Google’s ‘Contact Us’ page shows details of Joe Grier as contact person with an address from Mountain View, US. The page also contains details on the grievance redressal mechanism for YouTube.

As per the rules, all intermediaries have to prominently publish on their website, app, or both, the name of the grievance officer and his/her contact details as well as the mechanism by which a user or a victim may make a complaint.

The officer will have to acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and dispose of such complaint within a period of 15 days from the date of its receipt; and receive and acknowledge any order, notice or direction issued by the authorities.

Twitter has not sent details of the chief compliance officer to the IT ministry, and shared details of a lawyer working in a law firm as a nodal contact person and grievance officer, the source added.

Also read: What next in the tussle between government and social media firms?

While Twitter did not respond to email queries on the issue, its website mentions Dharmendra Chatur as the ‘Resident Grievance Officer for India (Interim)’.

Google, Facebook and WhatsApp also did not respond to detailed email queries on the appointment of the personnel.

The sources had earlier said that besides Google, Facebook and WhatsApp, other significant social media intermediaries like Koo, Sharechat, Telegram and LinkedIn too have shared details with the ministry.

Under the new rules, social media companies will have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for nudity, pornography, etc.

Non-compliance with the rules would result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.

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