Comply, and then debate, say Indian techies | India News

CHENNAI: With the new intermediary guidelines for social media platforms kicking in and big tech in a logjam with the government, desi tech entrepreneurs say social media has become too big to escape scrutiny, and global players are trying to wiggle out of compliance. Globally, India is not alone in placing such expectations on digital companies, and similar controls are being considered in other countries, they said.
“Global social media giants who are opposing the government’s new guidelines are trying to arm twist the sovereign. If the law requires you to do something, you have no choice but to do it. If you are aggrieved by the law or regulation, you can contest in a court. Comply first court next,” Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of BharatMatrimony, and a fierce internet freedom campaigner, said. “It is one thing to seek time to comply and another to challenge laws. The big is becoming bigger and have misplaced notions that they can challenge and get away. They must not forget that they need India more than India needing them,” he said.
Self reliance icon, Sridhar Vembu, founder, Zoho Corp says the issue needs to be viewed in two parts — one around social media platforms and second around messaging apps. “They (social media companies) used to be a neutral platform, but in the recent past, they have been taking editorial decisions on what kind of narrative is okay and what is not. That means they should be treated like any other publisher would, and held accountable for the same,” he said. In the case of messaging apps, we need to find a common ground between privacy concerns and misuse of the apps in relation to national security, Vembu said, suggesting creating a judicial body, operating outside of political pressures, to govern the traceability of private messages.
There are apprehensions over the new regulations too. Industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India said it had, on behalf of social media intermediaries, expressed its concerns to the government around the time stipulated for transitioning to the new rules, more so given the Covid-19 crisis. “We also feel that certain areas within the rules, like the personal liability of the chief compliance officer for instance, need more clarifications and devising of SOPs to deal with specific provisions and reassure SSMI employees of their liability. We are committed to working with the government on such FAQs and SOPs for compliance,” Bhanupreet Saini, head of public policy, IAMAI, said.
Some companies which have complied with the new regulations feel that social media will be safer now on. Desi Twitter equivalent Koo’s cofounder Aprameya Radhakrishna says they want users to have full freedom of expression and also want them to feel safe on the app. “The guidelines will make social media safer for users, and bring all players in the sector on a level playing field when it comes to controls for creating space spaces,” he said. Koo has complied with the new requirements and will continue to publish necessary reports as an ongoing process, he added.
Siddarth Pai, founding partner of VC firm 3one4 Capital, an investor in various new-age tech companies including Koo, believes the need for such a law is “at an all-time high” today. “While one can always debate the specifics of any legislation, there is no doubt that we need to incorporate a public review process into this framework. The social media companies can’t be selective about which country’s laws they adhere to and which they don’t.

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Tags: APP, Breaking news, capital, Google news, IAMAI, , india news, India news today, koo, Mobile Association of India, Today news, Vembu, Zoho Corp

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