Satej Patil also said these regulations need to be opposed strongly as they infringe the privacy of individuals and free speech given by the Constitution.(Twitter/@satejp)
Satej Patil also said these regulations need to be opposed strongly as they infringe the privacy of individuals and free speech given by the Constitution.(Twitter/@satejp)

'Dictatorial': Maharashtra IT minister on centre's new social media regulations

  • Patil told Hindustan Times, "The regulations curtail freedom of expression."
By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:54 PM IST

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 and 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 said his comments were his personal stand and that he is yet to discuss the issue with his colleagues in the state government. Patil told Hindustan Times, "The regulations curtail freedom of expression. With these regulations, the privacy of individuals will be threatened. As of now, if the government wants anything 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."

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He added, "We saw what happened in the United States, that the former president Donald Trump's Twitter account was deactivated. This shows that the law has such mechanisms to ensure such type of content is removed. What the government is seeking to do through these new regulations is to gain control of this content, which is not acceptable."

Patil also said, some bureaucrats deciding on what can be published and what cannot on any social media is an attack on the freedom of the press. 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 the content. It also requires such platforms to remove content flagged by authorities within 36 hours, and appointing a grievance officer to receive a complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days.

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