The day has come! India has taken its first step in controlling BIG TECH. Particularly those into Social Media. But wait! Don’t get the wrong idea from whatever else you’ve been reading. India hasn’t decided to ban social media per se. That’s just sensationalizing what really happened. Something we’re not going to do here. So let’s actually find out why such headlines are popping up everywhere.
It’s because what those headlines say is something that COULD happen if these companies don’t follow the new laws. It’s is more like a law in a country that says if you don’t get your car emissions test done by today, you may even be sent to jail. If you’re caught, you won’t always be sent to jail. You may get a warning, a fine, your vehicle may be impounded, you going to jail in this situation may come only if you repeatedly fail to comply with the law.
The same logic applies here. In an effort to protect its citizens from the various issues that are inherent to the likes of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Our Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, along with the Government of India has passed certain laws which if not complied within due time. Could and probably would result in a ban of these platforms. Whether that will really take place, no one knows. But it sure gives the government the right to do so.
But the motive behind these laws was not solely protection. The recent actions made by the micro-blogging platform Twitter had infuriated the government and much of the nation. A very apt statement made by Mr.Ravi Shankar Prasad supports this action of the government. When the Capitol Hill riot broke out we could see all the big social media giants scattering to take immediate action but they “slept” through the farm bill riot at Red Fort on Republic day. (His statements have been paraphrased and his actual words were slightly different but meant the same.)
What’s more, Twitter had not acted on any of its users spreading enmity, violence, and misinformation. Even after Mr. Ravi Shankar rebuked Twitter for taking down inflammatory content, it slept on it. These laws are a wake-up call to all such companies. Now many would bring up the question of “Right to Speech,” and by now you should have gotten the answer yourself. But if you need to be told the answer explicitly here you go. Yes, everyone is entitled to their “right to education” but however there are still caveats. If you want specifics. Article 19 (2) of the Indian constitution also stipulates that your “Right to speech” can be restricted due to reasons to do with the countries “sovereignty and integrity,” or in simple words due to reasons to do with safety, security, or law and order in the country.
Now enough about all that, let’s look into what really those laws are all about.
It’s not really that complicated. The intention behind these is simple. These platforms are owned by foreigners and controlled by them too. So naturally, their actions will be influenced by foreign interests, something these laws seek to curb.
Here are a few of the important things that you need to know.
- All major Social Media companies need to appoint
- A chief compliance officer
- A nodal contact person
- A resident Grievance officer
All of whom must be employees living in India. This is a huge step forward for the users of these platforms in India, as it will help the common man gain access to top company officials to share their grievances.
- Active Monitoring of Harmful Content
This basically reminds the BIG TECH that they should no longer rely just on automation tools and when it comes to the removal of Harmful content THERE SHOULD BE SOME HUMAN OVERSIGHT AS WELL.
These laws have caused a lot of panic, but if you actually see through it to the end. There is honestly nothing bad about any of this. It’s all positive with the citizen in mind. Now while the laws really cover over 5 topics. For the common man, the above 2 are the most important. While we are talking about a ban, let us be realistic. The government will not ban a platform used by millions without a valid reason. Especially if it does more than Tik Tok and is used for REAL communication and many people’s livelihood depends on it. In the era of misinformation it is important we see something through to the end before we jump at the headline.