Social media companies may get just 36 hours to junk ‘unlawful’ posts

NEW DELHI: Social media companies may need to remove “illegal” content soon, following government or court orders, within 36 hours, up from the current 72 hours. At the same time, they have to respond better to requests from citizens / users. Handling of their personal data in accordance with changes to the IT rules that regulate the operation of intermediaries such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google.
The new rules may require a company with more than 50 lakh users to have an office in India and appoint a node officer to work with law enforcement agencies.
According to the proposed amendments to the Intermediaries Guidelines of 2011, which will be announced under Section 79 of the IT Act, the government wants social media companies to respond more quickly when processing requests to remove illegal content.

The changes, which would go into effect once communicated, would make it dependent on IT intermediaries to remove malicious content within 36 hours of receiving a court order or notification from the government, top sources TOI said.
Sources said the new rules would replace the 2011 rules and require intermediaries to regularly update their users on compliance with rules and regulations, as well as compliance with user agreements and privacy policies. The amended rules would also seek to use technology-based automated tools or suitable mechanisms for proactive identification and removal or deactivation of public access to illegal information or content.
Sources said the government could address the controversial issue of asking companies to identify the source of illegal content so that action can be taken against criminals. At the moment, companies like WhatsApp have resolutely refused to provide such information, as all communication on the platform is encrypted and they cannot identify the origins of illegal content.
Legal advisors said giving 36 hours to remove illegal content is in line with international practices and rules in many western countries. The Intermediary Guidelines under Section 79 of the IT Act will be amended at a time when there are concerns within the government about the disclosure of illegal content on social media platforms.

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