Facebook to comply with India’s new intermediary rules, refuses to say when | #socialmedia

NEW DELHI: Social media giant, Facebook, on Tuesday said it will comply with the Intermediary Guidelines announced by the Indian government in February. Responding to questions from Mint, about where the company stands with respect to the compliance, Facebook said, “We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform.”

However, the company did not say by when it could comply with the norms, and what is required of it for compliance. The Indian government had announced the new Intermediary Guidelines on 25 February, giving social media firms three months to comply with them, which ended today. Facebook also ignored a question asking whether the platform will shut down following 25 May, if it hasn’t complied by then.

The rules required social media firms to track the first originator of posts that may be considered offensive by the government. Experts have said this might lead to suppression of free speech and increased censorship by such companies in India. “In their current form, these rules will undeniably harm freedom of expression, privacy and security and could be subject to legal challenges,” Udbhav Tiwari, Public Policy Advisor at Mozilla Corporation had said in February. “Provisions like traceability of encrypted content, harsh content take down timelines and automated content filtering are blunt and disproportionate to the intention behind these changes,” he added.

The new rules had also raised concerns about how encrypted messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Signal etc. will function in the country. Experts have said that it’s impossible to trace the first originator of posts and maintain encryption, which is essential for user privacy.

Mint also asked the same questions off Twitter, which didn’t respond to the queries.

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