The Indian government is instituting new regulations that will increase the oversight of social media platforms, streaming services, and news outlets, the Financial Times (FT) reported on Thursday, February 25. The new mandates follow a riff between Twitter and the Indian government over the social media platform’s refusal to block accounts tweeting about the farmers’ protests in the country.
Draft legislation of the new regulations indicates that platforms have 36 hours after being notified to remove offensive content. Content is considered offensive if it threatens the “unity, integrity, defense, security or sovereignty of India” or “causes incitement,” according to the draft seen by FT. Companies will also have to appoint Indian residents to serve as chief compliance officers, law enforcement coordinators and grievance redressal officers. Additionally, digital firms must work with the government to crack the identity of the “first originator” of messages considered unlawful.
Prasanth Sugathan, legal director at the Software Freedom Law Centre, India, told FT that the new rules were “problematic” and could result in legal challenges. “This amounts to surveillance,” someone close to a US Big Tech company operating in India told the outlet. “It certainly raises questions about privacy; now you literally don’t have a place to have a private conversation.”
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