As per sources, the Union Government is likely to introduce new guidelines by September, to strengthen laws that govern internet and social media companies in India.
This is in line with the recent meeting that took place between Ravi Shankar Prasad (Union Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology) and Chris Daniels (CEO, WhatsApp). A string of incidences that occurred in various parts of the country, led to these steps. These have largely been seen, as an outcome of rumours, offensive content and fake news, that has rampantly been shared on social media.
The stringent move will involve introduction of fresh clauses under the existing guidelines of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act. The Act, which was notified in 2011, mandates companies to follow ‘due diligence’ and allow time up to 36 hours for them to remove objectionable content.
On Tuesday, as an outcome of the meeting, Prasad told WhatsApp CEO Chris Daniels, that the company should comply with local laws, establish a corporate entity in the country and also appoint a grievance officer in India. In addition, they have been asked to come up with a technological solution which will make tapping of fake information easy.
However, it is still not clear whether WhatsApp has committed to the government’s demands, especially the one around traceability.
India’s move to take stern action came in the wake of rising crime percentage, through the use of this medium. WhatsApp has over 200 million users in India, and this kind of negative impact has become an area of concern.