Following the introduction of these new rules, the Centre was charged with an attempt to stifle free voices on social media.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has come out strongly in defence of the central government over its new rules aimed at curbing social media abuses. Prasad said that while the government was open to criticism, those who have been fiercely critical of the government’s measures must also have the courage to verify themselves, so that the government can know their genuineness. Soon after the Centre rolled out new guidelines for social media, tech giants and intermediaries, questions were raised about the freedom and increasing interference of the executives by way of giving more power to proposed committees consisting members of the government, namely secretaries from key ministries.
Under the new guidelines, the social media intermediaries need to register themselves with the government. They also need to appoint a grievance officer and set up a grievances redressal and compliance mechanism. Besides this, the social media platforms will be required to disclose the first originator of any mischievous tweet or message, if the court or any government authority orders. Not only that, in case of emergency nature, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may give orders to block access to such intermediaries.
Following the introduction of these new rules, the Centre was charged with an attempt to stifle free voices on social media. Responding to this, Ravi Shankar Prasad in an Interview to The Indian Express said that the government welcomed people giving it ‘gyan’ through their very stringent criticism on social media. “But those who are giving ‘gyan’ to the country must have the courage to verify themselves, so that we can know their genuineness. Significant social media platforms should have a voluntary user verification mechanism and some markers to identify a verified account, so that those not willing to verify can also be known,” the minister said.
Secondly, he added, the new guidelines have nothing to do with how social media should be used or not. “It is to check the abuse and misuse of social media. If there are more than 130 crore users of social media and they have a grievance, should they not have proper grievance redressal mechanism? The complaints and voices of victims were not heard. If these platforms gave them voice, it should also give them an outlet to be heard and then resolve those complaints in a time bound manner,” Prasad said.
The union minister said that the Centre would have no role in this. “It is for the platforms to listen and settle the grievances. The guidelines that we have introduced are under the rule making powers of the government,” he added.