The government is willing to bring stricter rules to make social media companies accountable and ensure the safety of the citizens on the internet if there is consensus in the House, Union electronics and information technology minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Vaishnaw said this in response to a query from Congress member Anand Sharma about more accountability of the companies. He added that law enforcement agencies take action on the basis of reports by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) or the ministry of electronics and information technology.
“There is also a central portal where such cases can be registered and forwarded to the relevant law enforcement agency… I agree with you that we have to come forward as a society and create greater accountability.”
HT on January 3 reported about a preliminary discussion paper circulated in the ministry regarding the need for international standard law for social media companies and that the government may look at the moderation of content.
The contours of the law were being discussed in the ministry. It may also expand to include user harm regulation and response, under 18 and child safety concerns, moderation of political content, definitions and regulation of high-risk artificial technology, and privacy concerns surrounding new equipment such as wearable devices.
Vaishnaw insisted immediate action has been taken against applications such as Bulli Bai, which sparked outrage after photographs and details of nearly 100 Muslim women were shared without their consent. In July, several Muslim women were put up “for auction” on the Sulli Deals application.
Vaishnaw said it is not about religion but about the protection of women. “Whenever we try to regulate social media, the Opposition says that we are attacking freedom of speech. We need to bring a consensus to create an accountable social media ecosystem where women can feel safe.”
He said the ministry has taken immediate action. “The action is not just superficial, but CERT-IN has conducted in-depth investigations.”