The government is planning to tighten the noose on social media companies in India. According to a report, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is planning to review social media intermediaries (SSMIs) and internet companies operating in India on a quarterly basis. The intention is to assess and ensure if these companies are complying with the country’s Information Technology Rules, 2021. Also Read - India is creating an ecosystem to hold social media accountable: Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw
According to Economic Times, the quarterly reviews will focus on compliance with parameters such as the number of grievances and complaints received and how many of them were resolved by the resident chief compliance officer. Also Read - US FCC commissioner wants Apple, Google to remove TikTok from app stores
“The idea of the audit is to ensure that the intermediaries, whether they are significant social media intermediaries or not, are adhering to the IT Rules in letter and spirit. That is why we will now also conduct quarterly audits,” an official was quoted as saying. Also Read - Global metaverse market to reach $28 bn by 2028 with the help of gaming
Existing IT rules
The existing ambit of IT rules does not include any compliance checks. The ministry does not conduct any reviews as such under Section 69A of the IT Act. However, the report said senior officials from significant and non-significant social media intermediaries meet the IT ministry every fortnight to discuss compliance with the government’s emergency orders. The quarterly reviews will happen besides these meets, as well as the monthly compliance report that companies already file.
The IT Rules of 2021 state that every social media intermediary must disclose the number of user grievances and complaints in a clear and legible report. They also need to reveal the categories of complaints and the action taken against them. The report further stated that companies such as Google, Meta, and Twitter are close to finalising their recommendation of a self-regulatory body to the IT ministry. The said body will have a panel headed by either retired chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court judge.