In a major development, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (Meity) has decided to conduct compliance audits of social media companies every quarter, a report by PTI said on Thursday. Currently, social media companies are required to disclose their compliance with IT rules 2021 every month, under which every such company is required to disclose actions taken by them in response to grievances.
“Meity has now put in place a mechanism to audit compliance of social media intermediaries under IT rules every quarter. As part of the audit, the ministry will verify if social media companies are reporting about grievances raised by them correctly and if their action taken is in sync with the laid out rules,” the news agency quoted a source as saying.
According to the report, the Centre has decided to set up an appellate panel, which will overrule the decisions taken by social media companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, among others, in response to steps taken by them on various grievances. The ministry has also wrapped up the public consultation process with respect to the proposed rule.
Meanwhile, between February 2021 and 2022, the ministry reportedly issued 10 blocking orders to Twitter, asking it to remove nearly 1,400 accounts and 175 tweets under Section 69 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The US-based company had moved to the Karnataka High Court with a plea to quash the blocking orders for 39 of those links.
During the hearing, Twitter told the court that the ministry has increasingly issued orders to block entire accounts without informing it of the specific tweets that call for their blocking.
“Several of the URLs contain political and journalistic content. Blocking of such information is a gross violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed to citizen-users of the platform,” the IE quoted the company as saying. The company claimed that the Ministry did not provide reasons for issuing the blocking orders, which is a requirement under Section 69(A).
The new IT Rules are aimed at regulating all social media intermediaries like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube etc, as well as other platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and stand-alone digital media outlets.
Several warning letters have been sent to the media outlets by the government to comply with the new IT rules or it would lose intermediary status. The companies have finally ready to abide by the rules.
The guidelines which are under the new IT rules were in force from earlier times but now the government has tightened some sections. The time given to remove the unlawful content under section 69 A of the IT act is reduced.