The Narendra Modi government has cracked down on social media giants, especially micro-blogging site Twitter, to make them comply with the InformationTechnology (IT) Act. Twitter's top executives could face jail for seven years along with a fine if the government notices any "objectionable or inflammatory content".
To remove such "undesirable content" from social media platforms, the government has sought swift action from Twitter, The Times of India reported. The government said that it will invoke section 69A of the IT Act which provides for blocking/ deleting any content on social media platforms that is "detrimental to the country's sovereignty and integrity".
The social media platforms would have to respond within 72 hours after the government brings to their notice any undesirable content, on failure of which they could face the action.
The decision comes days after a parliamentary committee lashed out at Twitter for inordinate delays in blocking/ deleting the content or accounts that are a threat to India's integrity or can create problems in law and order situation of the country. The government had asked Twitter chief Jack Dorsey to remain present in the meeting, but he could not do the same.
Stricter IT rules to monitor social media content?
Various social media platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Google Plus would be termed as intermediaries (that carry the message of a third person) and are responsible for the content displayed on their websites.
Facebook alone is projected to have nearly 319 million users in India by 2021. The draft of the IT (Intermediaries Guidelines Amendment Rules), 2018, states that any internet company that has over 50 lakh users in India should be incorporated within India and have a registered office along with a nodal person of contact.
The issue was earlier pointed out by IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the wake of fake news propaganda run by various political parties on Twitter and Facebook along with viral Whatsapp messages that were believed to be responsible for serial lynching episodes in the country.
No politicking on social media ahead of Lok Sabha polls
The parliamentary committee also asked Twitter to work with the Election Commission ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Twitter was also asked to monitor campaigns and advertisements by political parties and told that no "international interference" in Lok Sabha elections will be tolerated.
Last month, Twitter had stated in its blog post that it would be providing details of advertisements and data on their impressions (tweets) in various countries including India to bring greater transparency to the political advertisements that the micro-blogging site carries.
The decision was supposed to be implemented from March 11.