Google, Facebook, WhatsApp agree to appoint officers in line with new IT rules

 NEW DELHI: In the midst of a bitter battle with social media companies over new rules for IT intermediaries, the government made some headway on Friday as top players like Google, Facebook and WhatsApp agreed to appoint statutory officers in line with the guidelines.

Twitter, which so far steadfastly refused to comply with the rules, proposed the name of an outside consultant, though this was summarily rejected by the government as they were not in consonance with the guidelines. The fresh move comes amidst raging debate over the new IT rules that has also seen WhatsApp move the Delhi HC over its denial to track the origins of “unlawful” messages, and Twitter accuse the government of “dangerous overreach that is inconsistent with open, democratic principles”.

Friday saw a change as a majority of companies expressed willingness to start complying with a section of the provisions. 

LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft), Telegram, Google, Facebook and WhatsApp shared details of their chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and grievance officer with the IT ministry. Having these officers is a mandate under the IT (intermediary guidelines and digital media ethics code) Rules, 2021 which were announced on February 25 this year.

Even Indian companies such as Koo (local rival to Twitter) and Sharechat have made the appointments.

However, Twitter remains the only global player that is still playing hardball. The Jack Dorsey-co-founded company, which has been in the middle of a raging regulatory storm in India over a variety of issues, did respond to the government late Thursday night, sharing details of a lawyer working in a law firm in India as their nodal contact person and grievance officer, the sources said.

However, the government rejected its choice. “The rules require that these designated officers of the companies (with more than 50 lakh users) must be the employees of the company and a resident in India,” the sources said.



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