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New IT rules: WhatsApp releases compliance report; 2 mn Indian accounts banned in a month

New IT rules: WhatsApp releases compliance report; 2 mn Indian accounts banned in a month

WhatsApp said more than 95 per cent of such bans were due to the unauthorised use of automated or bulk messaging (spam). WhatsApp's grievance officer received 345 complaints during the period

"We ban the vast majority of these accounts proactively, without relying on any user reports," says WhatsApp "We ban the vast majority of these accounts proactively, without relying on any user reports," says WhatsApp

Over 2 million Indian accounts were banned by WhatsApp in the period 15 May-15 June 2021, the Facebook-owned messaging platform said in its first monthly compliance report published under India's new IT rules.

Under the country's new intermediary guidelines, large digital platforms (with over 5 million users) must publish periodic compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken thereon.

The company said these accounts were banned in the interest of "preventing online abuse and keeping users safe on our platform". WhatsApp said more than 95 per cent of such bans were due to the unauthorised use of automated or bulk messaging (spam).

The report titled 'India Monthly Report under the Information Technology(Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021', said these numbers have increased significantly since 2019 as the company's systems have increased in sophistication.

WhatsApp's grievance officer received a total of 345 complaints during the period, including 70 related to account support; 204 ban appeals; 20 other supports; 43 product support; and eight safety issues. It took action against 63 of these requests.

"The abuse detection operates at three stages of an account's lifestyle: at registration; during messaging; and in response to negative feedback, which we receive in the form of user reports and blocks. A team of analysts augments these systems to evaluate edge cases and help improve our effectiveness over time," the WhatsApp report said.

WhatsApp didn't mention the number of requests it may have received from the Centre. The Facebook-owned messaging platform and the central government are at loggerheads over the issue of the "traceability" clause in the new IT rules, under which social media companies are mandated to provide information about the first originator of a message if the government seeks such information. The company has also filed a case against the government in Delhi high court.

Also read: New IT Rules empowering, protecting users: Ashwini Vaishnaw

WhatsApp has said it plans to publish subsequent editions of the compliance report in 30-45 days. Indian accounts are those registered with the suffix +91, it said.

According to the new IT rules, significant social media intermediaries are also required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer and a grievance officer and these officials are required to be residents in India.

Non-compliance with the IT rules would result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.

Facebook recently named Spoorthi Priya as its grievance officer in India. India is a major market for global digital platforms. As per data cited by the government recently, India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 41 crore Facebook subscribers, 21 crore Instagram clients, while 1.75 crore account holders are on the microblogging platform Twitter.

Also read: WhatsApp messages have no evidential value: SC

Also read: Facebook, Instagram pull down millions of posts during May 15-June 15, shows compliance report

 

Published on: Jul 15, 2021, 8:55 PM IST
Posted by: Manoj Sharma, Jul 15, 2021, 8:51 PM IST