India Proposed New Rules For Social Media Platforms To Remove Unlawful Content

Harin - Jan 21, 2019

India Proposed New Rules For Social Media Platforms To Remove Unlawful Content

The Indian government has proposed new rules aiming to stop the spread of fake news and misinformation in the country on social media platforms.

With the intention to put a stop to the spread of misinformation and fake news on social media in the country, a new set of rules has been proposed by the Indian government. Local civil liberties groups are not too happy about this news. In December, the Internet Freedom Foundation posted a statement on their website stating that these new regulations would restrict online free speech.

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The new proposed rules would add changes to India’s IT Act’s Section 79 which is the main law on cybercrime and online commerce in the country. The IT Act is somewhat similar to the Communications Decency Act of the US. And the revised section actually is almost the same as Section 230.

If the revisions are accepted, all content on Twitter and Facebook that is regarded as inappropriate by the Indian government will need to be censored. And if the law enforcement requests for information, based on the revised law, these companies would need to submit the user’s messages. This will lead to end-to-end encrypted services such as Whatsapp facing major legal issues.

Each month, platforms will be required to send a reminder on privacy policies to their users.

Once these new rules receive approval, social media platforms would need to create new tools to automatically detect and flag illegal content including:


It is understandable that depictions of rape and child abuse should be banned from the platforms; however, advocates express their concerns over how these new regulations could suppress free speech and allow mass surveillance.

They also fear that the decryption clause mentioning in the amendments of the Indian government could lead to the invasion of citizens’ privacy by peering into their communications. The traceability would put an end to end-to-end encryption and platforms will be required to keep information in 180 days in cases it is needed for investigation purposes.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook has long claimed that his team is developing more improved artificial intelligence systems which are expected to automatically flag content that infringes with the platform’s regulations even before it’s posted. However, material that is not abided by these rules can still be found on the news feeds of users each day.

In December, Tumblr deployed its own AI to tackle pornography, but it has mistakenly flagged some items. While pieces of artwork that are non-erotic have been detected and flagged, some porn still appears on the site.


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