The government plans to change the proposed rules for policing online content such that the tough monitoring measures and takedown rules apply only to big social media firms, according to a senior government official.
In 2018, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) proposed to amend the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 to make social media firms more accountable for the content that they host.
The IT Act currently provides a legal shield for technology intermediaries.
Industry associations and cloud companies have objected to the proposed rules, which apply to all technology platforms despite it being framed to tackle the problem of ‘fake’ news on social media.
“The rules are meant only for social media content and, therefore, other ecommerce or streaming technology firms such as Amazon and Netflix must not worry about content takedown, traceability and grievance officer,” the official said.
IT industry lobby group Nasscom and Amazon Web Services (AWS) said last year that the rules must apply only to social media companies and not to technology intermediaries such as cloud platforms and the IT and business process management (BPM) sectors.
AWS said such intermediaries will have to bear the cost of complying with provisions that do not apply to them.
Facebook, YouTube and TikTok are among the companies expected to be impacted by the amendments to the guidelines.
Notification of the new rules is likely to be done by January 15, MeitY said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court last year.
The original proposal mandated companies to trace and report the origin of messages within 72 hours of receiving a complaint from law enforcement agencies. They also sought to “disable access” within 24 hours to content deemed defamatory or against national security and other clauses under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. Besides, all platforms with more than five million users will be required to have a registered entity in India under the Companies Act.