IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the new IT rules are designed to prevent abuse and misuse of platforms and offer users a robust forum for grievance redressal. As such, WhatsApp users have nothing to fear with regard to the new rules.
Further, the minister has asserted that the government fully recognises and respects the right of privacy of the citizens and welcomes criticism including the right to ask questions.
According to the government, the requirement of messaging platforms like WhatsApp to disclose origin of flagged messages under the new IT rules does not violate privacy of users.
Earlier on February 25, 2021, the government had announced the new IT rules, which require large social media platforms to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has directed all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and WhatsApp to report their status on compliance with the new IT rules. As part of this compliance report, the ministry has sought details of the chief compliance officer and the resident grievance officer appointed by digital platforms under the new rules.
Further, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has written to the OTT and digital media platforms to furnish all their details and compliance status as per the new IT rules within 15 days.
In its notice to the platforms, the ministry noted that a total of around 60 publishers and their associations have informed the ministry that they have already initiated the process of formation of self-regulatory bodies under the new IT rules.
Non-compliance with rules would result in these social media companies losing their intermediary status that provides them exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them. As such, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.