Ashwini Vaishnaw
Ashwini Vaishnaw
Twitter/Ashwini Vaishnaw

New Delhi: Former IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday praised his successor Ashwini Vaishnaw for "firmly reiterating the new IT Rules... empower safety and security of users".

Prasad - who frequently sparred with Twitter over its compliance with the rules till he was replaced last week - also offered the social media giant a scrap of praise, saying it was "assuring to note... has taken some steps to comply with the new rules".

"Greetings to the new IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for firmly reiterating that the new IT Rules are designed to empower the safety and security of users against misuse and redress their grievances. Assuring to note that Twitter too has taken some steps to comply with the new rules," he said.

On Sunday Vaishnaw - one of several new faces in the union cabinet after last week's reshuffle - said he had "reviewed implementation and compliance of" the IT Rules. Vaishnaw posted the message on Koo - the made-in-India platform - but not on Twitter; the social media giant and the government have been fighting legal battles over compliance issues, with the company accused of deliberately flouting the rules.

Last week Vaishnaw - a technocrat drafted in, some believe, to amicably resolve the dispute - picked up where Prasad left off, warning the company that "the law of the land is supreme".

Twitter has been targeted by the government for failing to appoint a chief compliance officer within the time prescribed. Yesterday the company made an interim appointment, after it told the Delhi High Court last week told that permanent appointee would named within eight weeks.

The new IT rules are scheduled to come into effect on May 25.

Among other provisions, they require social media platforms (with over 50 lakh users), online news publishers and OTT platforms to appoint India-based grievance officers and follow government directives on take-down of "offensive" content.

Critics of the rules say they violate users' right to privacy and freedom of expression.

News publishers also say the rules infringe on the freedom of the press, and are designed to allow the government a far tighter grip over online news content.

The rules have been challenged by Facebook-owned WhatsApp (which is required to break its USP - end-to-end encryption of users' content - to comply with the rules) and several news publishers, including the country's largest news agency - Press Trust of India.

Last week a group of news publishers - the News Broadcasters Association - scored a (temporary) win after the Kerala High Court told the government no coercive action could be taken against its members over non-compliance with the new rules.

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