Indian Government Ban: Facebook Releases Statement

Months ago, the Indian Government came up with new rules that social media companies had to abide by if they wanted to continue to operate in the country. Facebook has been at the centre of India’s laws and social media-related decisions. The country, few months ago, launched its government-owned WhatsApp alternative called Sandes after Facebook announced new a privacy policy that the company was unwilling to cancel even after the Government criticized it.

Facebook’s privacy policy update for WhatsApp took effect almost two weeks ago, and the company has filed an affidavit to the Delhi High Court (DHC) claiming that other tech companies and apps already collect the information that it wants to collect.

India’s IT rules take effect tomorrow, the 26th of March, 2021. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITy) gave social media platforms a three-month ultimatum to abide by the country’s IT rules and up till now, major social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter are yet to abide by these rules. Koo, Indian’s version of Twitter, is the only platform that has complied with the new guidelines ahead of the May 25 guideline.

According to a government spokesperson, social media companies that do not comply with the new rules by May 25 will lose their status and protections as intermediaries. Criminal actions can also be taken against them as per the country’s laws.

The IT rules announced by the Indian Government requires big social media companies like Facebook to follow additional due diligence, including appointing a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person and Resident Grievance Officer. The new rules also require these platforms to publish a monthly compliance report as well as have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app, or both.

Facebook, in a statement released on Tuesday said that “We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies”. According to Facebook’s spokesperson, the company remains committed to the people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves across Facebook’s platforms.

Facebook also mentioned that it will continue to have discussions about a “few of the issues which need more engagement” with India’s Government.

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