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New social media guidelines: Freedom of speech, expression must be ensured, says NASSCOM

IT industry body has urged the government to ensure that creativity and freedom of speech and expression are not curbed while implementing the new set of rules to govern intermediaries and digital media

Rukmini Rao | February 26, 2021 | Updated 13:06 IST
New social media guidelines: Freedom of speech, expression must be ensured, says NASSCOM
NASSCOM bats for freedom of expression

The central government on Thursday released a new set of guidelines for OTT platforms and social media to curb misuse of content that has led to persistent spread of fake news and other social hazards. IT industry body NASSCOM said that it had been working with its members to share feedback on the intermediary guidelines with the government and some of those recommendations have been accepted in the new rules announced by the government. 

While the government's emphasis on the new rules is not aimed to either curb creativity or  freedom of speech and expression of the citizens, NASSCOM urged the government to ensure that this design principle is followed as the guidelines are implemented. "The call for responsible freedom and ensuring that no information or data is misleading is key for a diverse democracy like India to curb the widespread issue of fake news," it said in a statement.

While the new rules also aim at creating a self-regulatory mechanism and creating robust  redressal system, NASSCOM said, "The option of voluntary self-verification of user accounts and the right to receive an explanatory notification on removal or disablement of access and to seek remedy against the action being taken by the intermediaries should be helpful."

It further emphasised on implementing the rules without making it onerous for the social media platforms. "We will work with our members to study in detail the implications of these guidelines and request for consultative discussions on implementation clarifications," NASSCOM said.

The government has framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 amid growing concerns around lack of transparency, accountability and rights of users related to digital media. The proposed guidelines state that social media platforms must remove content within 24 hours of receiving a complaint involving content of sexual nature and nudity. A Chief Compliance Officer must also be appointed by the platforms, among a host of new rules.

Also read: Govt announces new guidelines for social media, aims to track down first originator of mischievous content

Also read: Social media, digital news portals to now face govt scrutiny

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