Govt to change IT rules to check online abuse

Govt to change IT rules to check online abuse

The Centre has asked social media firms to deploy tools to prevent misuse of their platforms for spreading fake news as it is working to amend the information technology rules.  

IT ministry officials, who held a meeting with senior executives of social media majors including Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other companies, discussed the proposed changes in the Information Technology (IT) rules.

According to the draft amendment proposed to the IT rules, social media and other online platforms have to deploy automated tools to identify and disable “unlawful content”.

The platforms would have to inform its users to refrain from hosting, uploading or sharing any content that is blasphemous, obscene, defamatory, “hateful or racially, ethnically objectionable”, said the proposed changes.

Users would be asked to guard against hosting or sharing information that violates any law, deceives or misleads receivers about the origin of messages that are grossly offensive or menacing in nature, or those which threaten national security. The platforms or intermediaries with over 50 lakh users in the country should set up a permanent registered office in India.

They should also appoint a nodal officer in India, the draft said. The IT ministry is seeking feedback from the public on the draft amendments by January 15 before taking a final decision.

Following the mob lynching incidents triggered by rumours circulated on WhatsApp and other social media sites, the government has been exploring ways to curb misuse of such platforms. Besides, the effort is to tackle the spread of fake messages on social media ahead of the general elections in 2019.

However, the IT ministry issued a statement saying that the government does not regulate content appearing on social network platforms, although these companies are required to ensure that their platforms are not used to commit and provoke terrorism, extremism, violence and crime.