Facebook, Twitter plan push-back on India’s new regulations
Global social media and technology giants are gearing up to fight sweeping new rules proposed by the Indian government that would require them to actively regulate content in one of the world’s biggest Internet markets.
The rules, proposed by the Information Technology ministry on Christmas Eve, would compel platforms such as Facebook, its messaging service WhatsApp, and Twitter to remove unlawful content, such as anything that affected the “sovereignty and integrity of India”. This had to be done within 24 hours, the rules proposed.
The proposal, which caught many holidaying industry executives off guard, is open for public comment until Jan. 31. It will then be adopted as law, with or without changes.
— Reuters India (@ReutersIndia) January 11, 2019
U.S. and India lobby groups, representing Facebook and other companies, have sought legal opinions from law firms on the impact of the federal proposal, and have started working on drafting objections to be filed with the IT ministry, four sources in the sector said.
“The companies can’t take this lying down. We are all concerned, it’s fundamental to how these platforms are governed,” said an executive at a global social media company.
An estimated half a billion people in India have access to the Internet. Facebook has about 300 million users in the country and WhatsApp has more than 200 million. Tens of millions of Indians use Twitter.
The new rules, the sources said, would put the privacy of users at risk and raise costs by requiring onerous round-the-clock monitoring of online content.