Centre’s new social media regulations dictatorial: Maharashtra IT minister Satej Patil
Maharashtra minister of state for information technology (IT) Satej Patil on Saturday criticised the Central government’s regulations for social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter and over-the-top (OTT) players such as content streaming platforms, calling them “dictatorial” and a threat to democracy and freedom of expression.
Patil clarified that this is his personal stand and he is yet to discuss the issue with his colleagues in the state government. He told Hindustan Times, “The regulations curtail freedom of expression. With these regulations, privacy of individuals will be threatened. As of now, if the government wants anything which is anti-national and objectionable taken off the social media platforms, the social media companies cooperate. So there is no need to bring these regulations, unless the government wants access to everyone’s social media.”
He added, “We saw what happened in the United States; former president Donald Trump’s Twitter account was deactivated. This shows that even presently in the law, there are mechanisms to ensure such type of content can be removed. What the government is seeking to do through these new regulations is gain control of the content, which is not acceptable.”
Patil also said that some bureaucrats deciding on what can be published and what cannot on any social media is an attack on the freedom of press, and such orders will not have any standing in the court of law.
On February 25, 2021, the ministry of electronics and information technology notified the Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021 that social media companies and OTT platforms need to follow. One of the rules is enabling traceability of the originator of content. It also requires such platforms to remove content flagged by authorities within 36 hours as well as appointment of a grievance officer to receive complaints within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days.