The government on Wednesday informed Parliament that there is no proposal with the IT ministry to set up a regulator for social media. According to Hindustan Times, Union IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, said that the government has released Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, under the IT Act that specifies the due diligence to be followed by all the intermediaries, including the social media intermediaries.

“The social media platforms are enjoined to develop a robust grievance redressal system. Presently, there is no proposal with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to appoint a regulator for social media,” Prasad informed the Lok Sabha.

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Prasad also said that the government values freedom of speech and expression which is a fundamental right under Article 19(1) of the Constitution.

“The Government welcomes criticism, dissent and also the rights of people to ask questions on social media. However, this needs to be acknowledged that the fundamental right of speech and expression under Article 19(1) is also subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. It is equally important that social media should not be abused or misused to defame, promote terrorism, rampant violence and compromise the dignity of women,” Prasad said.

The government in February had announced sweeping regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter as well as OTT players such as Netflix, requiring them to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours and setting up a complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country.

The guidelines also make it mandatory for platforms such as Twitter and WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message that authorities consider to be anti-national and against security and sovereignty of the country. The new rules related to social media platforms are to be handled by the IT ministry while the Information and Broadcasting ministry will look after content-related issues on entertainment apps and online news portals.

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