Facebook storm forces government to ‘rethink’ security of social media platforms


India plans to “rethink” the safe harbor framework enjoyed by the country’s social media platforms.

It comes at a time when calls to further regulate Facebook have intensified across the world in the wake of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s revelations.

The Center is watching developments globally and believes that the “blanket exemption” granted to social media companies must end, ET told.

“The platforms must be responsible for the content; they can’t protect themselves behind the safe harbor, they have to be much more proactive in identifying and removing harmful and hateful content, ”one official said.

While the new IT rules address some concerns about flagging and removing content, and also established a complaints mechanism, an overhaul is only possible by amending the broader IT law, 2000, which was last modified in 2008, long before smartphones became mainstream in the country.

India is approaching 750 million internet users and is the largest user market for many tech giants, including Facebook.


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“There is a need for legislation in this area and the government is already considering this. Whether in Europe or America, everyone is rethinking the safe harbor layout and we also believe it needs to be changed, ”the official said.

Under Article 79 of the Informatics Act, intermediaries, including social media companies, enjoy immunity from content posted on their platforms by third-party users.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said the company was working on new measures, including a “take a break” feature on its apps. to keep teens away from harmful content.

He also said Facebook’s algorithms “should be held accountable, if necessary, by regulation so that people can match what our systems say they’re supposed to do with what’s actually going on.”

Facebook is ready to change a provision in the 1996 US law that insulates businesses from liability for what users post, he added.

Facebook is prepared to limit these protections, “provided they enforce the systems and their policies the way they are supposed to,” Clegg said.

Haugen accused the tech giant of putting profit before safety. She is expected to testify before the UK Parliament’s Online Safety Bill Committee on October 25. The committee is reviewing a law that places an obligation on social media companies to protect users, especially children.

French and New Zealand leaders are also holding talks at a summit with major global tech companies in Paris on Wednesday, as governments around the world consider new regulations to contain hate speech and harmful content on the internet. .

The latest revelations around Facebook by Haugen allege that the US-based social media network is harming children’s mental health and fueling division in society by promoting hateful and violent content.

India’s IT Rules, which were notified in May, have a mechanism in place for social media users to report problematic content as soon as they see it and require companies to submit compliance reports on these. complaints every month.

“We are working to strengthen our own approach to tackling the threat of harmful content, we have notified the IT rules, but to really put more bite into it we need to go for an amendment to the IT law. This is something that is already discussed and there is an internal team working on the project, ”said the official.

The government is in “wait and watch” mode to see how the world situation unfolds, the official added.

After Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, revealed her identity and testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, numerous cases are underway for tighter regulation of social media companies.

Lawmakers are calling for an independent regulator with the power to audit and inspect large tech companies, as well as advocate for a new privacy policy so people can “sign up” if they are in favor of the sharing their data online.

They are also calling on the United States to update children’s privacy laws and competition policy, and are asking tech companies to make their algorithms more transparent.


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