India badly needs cyber regulator to tame social media entities

New Delhi: As the Indian government struggles to tame the social media giants and force them to comply with the new IT rules, the time is ripe to appoint a nodal cyber regulator to deal with Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and others, leading experts said on Wednesday.

There is no universal cyber law or world body to deal with social media companies and various countries have appointed/formed their own cyber regulators who separately deal with Big Tech when they fail to address the laws of the land.

“Twitter now appears to be on a collision course with the Parliament of India. The time has come to bring in a regulator in the technology sector in India to deal with the landscape,” leading cyber security expert Jiten Jain told IANS.

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“There is currently no provision in law to impose penalties. The government must take appropriate actions against Twitter for flouting legal orders by the government under section 69A,” he said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has asked for an explanation from the microblogging site Twitter over denying access to the accounts of Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and committee head Shashi Tharoor.

Twitter has locked horns with the government for a long time over its compliance with the new IT rules.

On Tuesday, Facebook India and Google India representatives appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT to explain their views on safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social and online news media platforms.

Sources said that the Committee has directed Facebook and Google to follow the new IT rules and laws of the land.

According to cyber law expert Virag Gupta, it is clear from the Parliamentary Committee proceedings report that Facebook and Google are also not complying with new IT rules.

“As per new rules, these companies were to appoint nodal officer, compliance officer in India, but there is no such public disclosure for the same. As per modus operandi of Twitter, Facebook has also appointed ad hoc type of grievance officer in India. If Twitter is targeted for non-compliance of new IT rules, then all tech giants should be dealt with in the same manner,” Gupta told IANS.

The Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell has also registered an FIR against Twitter under several serious sections of the POCSO Act on a complaint of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Twitter said it has zero tolerance policy towards child sexual exploitation.

Regarding FIR for objectionable content against Twitter, it may create big chain reaction against other tech companies.

“Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram etc. are also have huge amount of objectionable content, viz. pornography, drugs, nudity, child sex abuse etc., which is unlawful as well as contrary to their own policies,” Gupta argued.

“Cyber and IT matters come within the purview of Union list while police come within State list as per the 7th schedule of Constitution. It will be better to deal with such matters through a cyber regulator,” he emphasised.

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