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IT Min submits responses to House panel's queries on various issues, including liability of social media platforms

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Dion Global

05 Mar 2019

The IT ministry has submitted responses to queries posed by a Parliamentary panel on various issues, including liability of social media platforms in instances of fake news circulation and efficacy of the IT Act in curbing the misuse of such platforms, said a source.

Among the 40 questions that the information technology (IT) ministry has responded to included amendments proposed in the IT Act and its rules to deal specifically with issues related to social media platforms and intermediaries, and purported delay in bringing about the said changes.

A government official privy to the development said the list of questions dealing primarily with the issue of safeguarding citizens' rights on social or online news media platforms was sent last month by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, which had recently summoned senior representatives of Twitter, and now Facebook and WhatsApp.

The questions posed ranged from mechanisms with the government to monitor compliance of guidelines by social media platforms to actions taken on instances of misuse.

One of the questions pertained to how an IT intermediary is different from a 'media house' exerting editorial control, and another one on the regulatory scenario in other countries such as the US, China, the UK and the European Union.

It also asked whether the ministry has any mechanism in place to curb misuse of social media platforms, particularly in the view of the upcoming general elections, and the safeguards that are being taken to keep the election process safe.

Other issues pertain to "major challenges" faced by the ministry in the social media domain.

The Committee also sought the ministry's response to whether they have felt any need to have a regulator for social media platforms, in view of the potential of such platforms to influence public perception. It also sought information on actions taken by the ministry to curb the spread of fake news, and to tackle the menace of abusive tweets and trolling.

It also enquired about the privacy norms for social media platforms operating in India, and grievance redressal mechanism available to social media platform users in the country.