Future of Facebook, Twitter Under Scrutiny In India As Gov’t Reminds Them To Accept New IT Rules
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Future of Facebook, Twitter Under Scrutiny In India As Gov’t Reminds Them To Accept New IT Rules

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As the three-month deadline for social networking firms to accept India’s
intermediary IT rules ends on Tuesday, the future availability of popular apps
Facebook and Twitter is in jeopardy. The platforms have yet to comply with the
IT rules laid out by the Indian government.

The federal government of India, meanwhile, remains firm on its stance that if
social media mammoths like Twitter and Facebook fail to obey India’s laws,
they are likely to lose their status and protections as intermediaries. The
apps may further become liable for criminal action, in accordance with India’s
existing laws.

While Twitter has yet to comment on the subject, Facebook has said that the
company aims to comply with the laws of India, but need to discuss some points
regarding the IT rules.

“We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss
a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant
to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve
efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and
safely express themselves on our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson told
Sputnik.

There are over 290 million Facebook users in India. Besides its main app, its
instant messaging app WhatsApp and photo-sharing platform Instagram are used
by over 600 million and 80.5 million Indians respectively.

After India banned more than 200 Chinese apps from operating in the country
last year, citing national security reasons, experts believe that if the
government thinks it’s necessary, other apps could also be pushed out of the
nation.

Kazim Rizvi, the founder of an Indian tech policy think tank, said that
although they were enacted with the purpose of ensuring greater protection of
user interest, the rules entail certain overarching mandates like proactive
monitoring, fuelled by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

“These provisions are likely to promote unwarranted censorship and severely
impact smaller companies that do not have the resources for automated
filtering and quick takedowns.”

The tech expert added that it is undoubtedly important to deploy appropriate
regulatory measures to ensure that the online platforms conform the security
and safety of Indians, while adhering to national laws.

“Appropriate consultation with all the stakeholders and giving sufficient time
to both the big and small companies to recalibrate their operations based on
the mandates in the rules is crucial to ensure reasonability and feasibility
of these measures,” Rizvi added.

Indians on the other hand, fear that they could lose their voices if the
government bans apps like Facebook, Twitter and related apps for not wanting
to immediately accept the IT rules passed three months ago.

​Previously, senior tech expert Jitendra Soni had also told Sputnik that said
that while banning social-network platforms is entirely under the Indian
government’s jurisdiction, if popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook are
banned from the country, repercussions could be catastrophic for the
democratic rights and values of the people of India.

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