Google, YouTube, Facebook say they will aim to comply with India's new IT rules

With the new IT rules for social media companies come into effect from Wednesday, Google on Tuesday said that they are working towards meeting the compliance requirements.

A Google spokesperson said the company has consistently invested in significant product changes, resources and personnel to ensure that it is combating illegal content in an effective and fair way, and to comply with local laws in the jurisdictions it operates in.

"We realise that our work in keeping our platforms secure is never done and we will continue to refine our existing approaches, and evolve our policies and be as transparent as possible about how we make decisions," the spokesperson said. Google's statement covers all its platforms, including YouTube.

Even Facebook asserted they are working towards meeting the compliance requirements. A Facebook spokesperson noted that the company is working to implement operational processes and aims to comply with the provisions of the IT rules.

The social media giant -- which also owns photo-sharing platform Instagram -- said it continues to discuss a "few of the issues which need more engagement" with the government.

Facebook and Google, however, did not clarify on the new level of compliance being met as of Tuesday.

On February 25, the government had announced tighter regulations for social media firms, requiring them to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours and setting up a robust complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country.

Significant social media companies will have to publish a monthly compliance report disclosing details of complaints received and action taken, as also details of contents removed proactively.

They will also be required to have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app, or both.

As per data cited by the government, India has 53 crore WhatsApp users, 44.8 crore YouTube users, 41 crore Facebook subscribers, 21 crore Instagram users, while 1.75 crore account holders are on microblogging platform Twitter.

The new rules were introduced to make social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram -- which have seen a phenomenal surge in usage over the past few years in India -- more accountable and responsible for the content hosted on their platform.

Social media companies will have to take down posts depicting nudity or morphed photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.

Notably, the rules require significant social media intermediaries -- providing services primarily in the nature of messaging -- to enable identification of the "first originator" of the information that undermines sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order.

This could have major ramifications for players like Twitter and WhatsApp. The rules also state that users who voluntarily want to verify their accounts should be given an appropriate mechanism to do so, and be accorded a visible mark of verification.

(With inputs from PTI)

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