Government to make legal changes, regulations needed for greater social media accountability: Vaishnaw




NEW DELHI: Minister of IT Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday that there was a clear consensus in the country to do social media more responsible platforms, and assured that the government will make the necessary legal changes and regulations to do so.
The internet on mobile phones and social media platforms have brought powerful and transformative change, but this must be accompanied by an awareness of responsibility, the minister said, stressing that social media and the digital world must be made more responsible.
“Whatever legal changes are needed, we will do that. Within the media groups, the necessary self-regulation…self-regulation will be done…but whenever necessary, we will take all steps to make the media socially responsible,” Vaishnaw said. speaking at a summit organized by a media house.
Whether in the Parliament or out, there is a clear consensus in the country that making social media accountable is essential, Vaishnaw said.
“If you see globally too, there is a clear trend that social media needs to be held accountable. It’s the same in India. As I said, legal action will also be taken” , said the Minister.
No industry wants regulation, Vaishnaw said, adding, “but bringing regulation where it is needed, and to the extent needed, is the government’s responsibility, and we will bring it.”
The comments gain prominence as the government prepares to finalize new social media rules that propose to give users a mechanism to appeal grievances against arbitrary content moderation, inaction or takedown decisions large technology companies such as Twitter and Facebook.
Earlier this month, the Department of Computing released the new draft rules that propose a government panel to hear user appeals against complaints filed inaction or against content-related decisions made by data managers. complaints from social media platforms. At present, “there is no appeal mechanism provided by intermediaries nor a credible self-regulatory mechanism in place,” the IT Department had said.
The government plans to finalize the new social media rules before the end of July after extensive consultations. The proposed amendment is expected to be widely opposed by major tech platforms during the consultation process.
Social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp have drawn regulatory attention in the past to issues such as hate speech, harmful content and misinformation on their platforms.
There is also growing discontent among a section of users who allege that digital platforms engage in arbitrary acts by removing content.
The government has made it clear that no social media company can infringe upon the constitutional rights of citizens, and the internet must be a safe and trusted place, with all platforms accountable to their users.
India implemented new rules on IT intermediaries last year, aimed at strengthening the accountability of big tech companies, including Twitter and Facebook.
The rules require social media platforms to remove any content flagged by authorities within a given time frame and establish a robust complaints mechanism with an agent based in the country. Social media companies are required to remove posts depicting nudity or makeover photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.
Large social media companies – those with 50 lakh users or more – must also publish a monthly compliance report disclosing details of complaints received and action taken, as well as content proactively removed.
On the issue of cyber security and cases of site hacking, Vaishnaw said cyber warfare has become a reality, necessitating the need for a cyber army and strong cyber security measures.
The government takes a systematic approach to cybersecurity and has developed institutions capable of leveraging advanced technologies for defensive and offensive tactics and for rapid response.
“India ranks among the top 10 in the world for cybersecurity readiness. We will continue to consolidate that,” Vaishnaw pledged as he observed that Indian startups are creating world-class products in this field.
Users of digital technologies must also be aware of their responsibilities and must take security aspects very seriously.
On semiconductors, Vaishnaw said following a government policy push on chip manufacturing, India is making rapid progress and by the end of 2022, the first deal and technology transfer for it will be a reality.
“I recently met the Chairman and CEO of IMEC, headquartered in Belgium, which works on advanced semiconductor technology, and there is absolute commitment to India,” the minister said.
He expressed his confidence that India will become a big trusted chip supplier for the world in the coming years.
Semiconductor manufacturing in India will propel the electronics industry, create new jobs and usher in competitive prices.
“Over the next 4-5 years, job opportunities in electronics manufacturing will grow to 1 crore from the current 25 lakh…we are working in that direction,” he said.
In December last year, the government approved a policy increase of Rs 76,000 crore for the semiconductor and display manufacturing ecosystem in the country, in a bid to position India as a global hub for high-tech production.


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