New IT Rules Won’t Affect Individual’s Privacy: Union Law Minister Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad

Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaking at a press conference

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, ‘India would not compromise on its digital Sovereignty‘ the statement was issued by the Law Minister in his press conference at BJP headquarters. 

Union Minister said, “Social media companies willing to do business in India will have to abide by the law of the land as India will not compromise its digital sovereignty.”

He also said there are no reasons for the employees of the social media groups to fear for their security. The new IT rules framed in 2021 are introduced for preventing the abuse and misuse of social media and will not affect ordinary users, said union minister for Communications, Electronics, and Information, and Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The government is not taking away the privacy of the company or users. If a person becomes a victim on social media he will contact the company first. If the company fails, then the government officers will solve the matter.” There is no censorship, said the Union Minister.

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The guidelines issued do not deal with the use of social media. It only deals with three main issues. 

1. Appointment of an India-based grievance redressal officer whose address and phone number are known to the government, and those grievances must be addressed in 15 days. Companies have to give a monthly report that grievances have been addressed. 

2. Companies need to appoint compliance officers to deal with rules and regulations.

3. There must be a person for contact with the government.

He said the government is seeking only information about those messages which are a threat to the sovereignty of the country, which causes mob lynching and public violence etc. The companies have to disclose who began the mischief. The rules will not comply with companies disclosing ordinary messages of the users.

The Union minister also recalled the companies of their dual standards on the same issues. He said after the Singapore protest, tags of the Singapore variant were deleted, but here in India, we have to wait for one week to remove tags of the Modi and India variant.

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Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad also pointed to Twitter for removing the blue tick of the Vice President. He said Twitter is welcome to do business in India but learn to respect the constitutional authority. He also said if a person is victimized by fake news in India, where should he go, to the US.

The tussle between the government and social media companies started after the government of India in February 2021 issued guidelines for the social media groups in the name of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. 

Various social media companies approached Delhi high court, stating it is an attack on the right to privacy of the users and company. Google in Delhi high court challenged the direction of a single judge bench in which it was stated that new IT rules also apply to Google.

Google, in the petition, said rules for digital media did not apply to its search engine as it did not fit the definition of “Significant Social Media Intermediary” (SSMI), which has been made a part of the rules mandating strict compliance.

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Delhi court on Monday observed that Twitter has to comply with new rules and granted 3 weeks to appoint a resident grievance officer. The next hearing has been scheduled for 6 July.

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