There should be rules in place to make social media accountable, says Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Electronics and Information Technology. In a question hour held at Rajya Sabha on Friday, the Minister revealed that the government is ready to introduce ‘stricter’ guidelines to regulate social media if Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can build a consensus on it.
His response was to a query raised by Anand Sharma of the Congress party on initiatives taken against websites like ‘BulliBai’ that targeted women belonging to the Muslim community. IT Minister said that the government took immediate action against the ‘BulliBai’ issue. He raised the concern that the opposition tends to see any steps taken by the government to make social media accountable to limit the freedom of speech.
Mr Vaishnaw told the Rajya Sabha that the government is open to establishing stricter social media rules to hold them accountable as there is a need to ensure safety and security to women and future generations. Minister added that protecting the dignity of women online was a fundamental construct, and there should not be any compromise on it.
A Constitutional Framework is in Place to Regulate Social Media
He pointed out that the government is working within a constitutional framework, and the role of both states and the Centre has to be seen in perspective. He added that the state governments’ law enforcement authorities act based on information provided by some agencies or his team.
He noted that there is a structure in place for any cybercrime that occurs across the country, which can be reported through a central portal and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
Minister stated that social media is ubiquitous and plays a significant role in our lives today and that the government would introduce thorough intermediary laws and standards for social media to prevent its misuse.
According to the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook qualify as intermediaries. The government is committed to making the Internet in India open, safe, and trustworthy for all users. To that end, the government issued the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021, on February 25, 2021, to ensure that the internet is safe and trustworthy. According to the requirements, social media intermediaries must additionally perform further due diligence.