Will follow new IT rules: Facebook, Google to parliamentary panel

Updated on Jun 30, 2021 06:45 AM IST

“Both companies said they are willing to comply with the new guidelines and have appointed the requisite officers,” a person aware of the developments said. The new guidelines mandate that the social media firms appoint a compliance officer, liable for non-observance of rules, a grievance redressal officer and a nodal officer.

Google and Facebook have both said they have complied with the guidelines.(Reuters)
Google and Facebook have both said they have complied with the guidelines.(Reuters)
ByDeeksha Bhardwaj, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The parliamentary panel on information technology on Tuesday quizzed officials from Google and Facebook about the implementation of the new social media and intermediary guidelines, with the social media companies telling the committee that they were willing to comply with the rules, people familiar with the matter said.

“Both companies said they are willing to comply with the new guidelines and have appointed the requisite officers,” a person aware of the developments said. The new guidelines mandate that the social media firms appoint a compliance officer, liable for non-observance of rules, a grievance redressal officer and a nodal officer. Google and Facebook have both said they have complied with the guidelines.

Issues regarding user safety and compliance with the new guidelines were part of the conversation, the person quoted above said on condition of anonymity. The issue of end-to-end encryption and the feasibility of traceability was also discussed. The matter was raised by Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, the person added. “Both companies told the panel that they did not read emails or messages exchanged between anyone as they were end to end encrypted,” the person said. “The panel was informed that adopting traceability would have to be a global practice, and doing it just in India is not really possible.”

Also Read| Facebook to release its first compliance report in July

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has already challenged the traceability clause in the court, arguing it invades privacy and negates end-to-end encryption.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey asked Google about whether it listens to conversations on “Ok Google”, its voice command-based platform, another person said.

In a statement later, Google said it welcomes the chance to engage with policy makers and ensure the safety of its users. “We always welcome opportunities to engage in dialogue with the policy makers and share details of our efforts in combating illegal content and ensuring the safety of users across our platforms,” a Google spokesperson said. “We have consistently invested in significant product changes, resources, and personnel and have made significant progress in balancing the openness of our platforms with the responsibility of keeping the community safe in compliance with the local laws in the country.”

HT reached out to Facebook but did not receive a response immediately.

Also Read| WhatsApp, Facebook widely used for news, trust in television low: Report

The panel, which is headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, has also decided to send a letter to Twitter, seeking an explanation over briefly locking out Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Tharoor from their accounts for alleged copyright infringement. “The panel has sought an explanation from Twitter as to why they had to lock the two accounts instead of taking down the content,” the second person said.

On Friday, Ravi Shankar Prasad said he was denied access to his account by the company, which said he violated the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Prasad linked the denial of access to his remarks “calling out the high handedness and arbitrary actions of Twitter”, a reference to the continuing dispute between the social media company and the central government over the compliance with new IT rules.

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