Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been within the thick of motion, engaged on new guidelines on social and digital media in addition to OTT platforms, tackling the problem posed by Chinese language apps and the safety issues round telecom gear. His ministry has additionally been the spearhead for an effort to wean producers of smartphones away from China. In an interview to TOI, he outlines the authorities’s technique in these essential areas. Excerpts:
Do you assume that new tips will assist the federal government?
The difficulty isn’t of use of social media, the problem is of abuse and misuse of social media. The rules give attention to the person of social media. Do I’ve a discussion board for decision of grievances or not? It’s between the platform and customers, you need to have a grievance redressal officer, compliance officer, reporting officer. We, the federal government, are out of it — the federal government welcomes dissent, it welcomes criticism, together with of the Prime Minister, ministers and authorities insurance policies. Our authorities additionally appreciates the position of social media in empowering residents.
However, we’ve got to guard the rights of customers and so we’ve got imposed 4 obligations on them. First, month-to-month reporting of decision of grievances. Second, in case of “vital” platforms, a mechanism for voluntary verification of customers. Third, removing of content material inside 24 hours, which impinge on nationwide safety, have morphed photos of ladies, revenge porn being proven by jilted lover, and so on. Final, if there is a matter regarding nationwide safety, sovereignty of India, projection of rape sufferer or defaming of ladies, and in another outlined classes, then you’ll have to disclose khurafaat kisne shuru ki (who began the mischief). We don’t want to see the content material. I’ve to be upholder of the liberty of a person, however I additionally need to be involved concerning the dignity of India’s girls.
At some stage, had been a number of the corporations additionally turning into activists?
I don’t want to touch upon that. What we’re asking is uniformity of yardstick. You help the police motion in case of violence on the Capitol Hill within the US. We recognize that. However relating to our delight, Purple Fort, you’ve double requirements, you stand with the aggressors. This double customary is just unacceptable. It’s a must to recognize India’s democracy and which means India’s Structure and the legal guidelines of India.
Some individuals imagine that the federal government has turn out to be too delicate. Is there a line that you simply draw while you say the federal government is open to criticism?
Over the past 20 years, my PM has been the largest sufferer of constant marketing campaign towards him, primarily based on falsehood. The place do you draw a line? Ought to social media be allowed to turn out to be a platform to pander to terrorists or those that are attempting to interrupt the nation, those that don’t respect the decision of democracy? There’s a tendency of those that have repeatedly been rebuffed within the common mandate to additional their political targets from the corridors of the Supreme Court docket and a few by way of social media. It’s not honest.
WhatsApp has mentioned that they’re unable to interrupt the encryption and isn’t sharing the unique supply of illegal message…
Expertise is altering so quick. Are we speaking of rocket science? Furthermore, I’m not searching for to know the content material, I solely need to know the originator in case a submit has turn out to be viral and is inflicting hassle.
Grounds on which you search motion from social media corporations, reminiscent of nationwide safety and public order, are seen by many individuals as being too broad. Do you agree?
They’re a part of Article 19(2) of the Structure. The Supreme Court docket has mentioned that web is integral to the appropriate to free speech as supplied in Article 19(1), subsequently 19(2), with cheap restrictions. They’ve been in place for over 70 years and there are a number of judgments on sovereignty and integrity of India. We’ve got solely added dignity of ladies to it as a result of it has turn out to be a problem within the age of social media. And no, we’re not saying one thing obscure. We respect individuals’s proper to speech, however they will’t be oblivious to Article 19(2), which talks of cheap restrictions.
Don’t we danger turning right into a police state on social media since one improper hashtag can result in stoppage of every part?
No, it’s not true. We solely search to cease a hashtag if it’s inflicting hassle, and to not convey down an account. These propagating towards India, by way of fictitious accounts and hashtags, should pay for it as a result of we can not ignore any menace to India’s safety from terrorists.
What’s the want to control OTT platforms?
There’s a censor board for movies however there may be none for OTT platforms. All we’re asking for is self-certification and selfregulation. When you’ve a self-regulatory mechanism for TV information, you run a scroll if there’s something improper. Doesn’t The Occasions of India comply with the Press Council of India tips? Doesn’t Occasions Now comply with self-regulation tips. So, how are you going to (the OTTs) be utterly unbridled? For information media, all you must do is to tell the I&B ministry. Daily, you’ve a brand new channel arising on YouTube. Our solely expectation is that you’ll want to inform who you might be and the place a channel is situated. The federal government will solely have a soft-touch oversight mechanism in relation to social media platforms in addition to digital media and OTT platforms.
What’s the authorities’s view on telecom community growth and procurement from Chinese language corporations?
I don’t need to touch upon any particular nation. Our core concern is to have a sturdy, protected and safe Indian communication system. If Digital India has to succeed, it has to stay protected and safe.
The federal government has mentioned that telecom gear can solely come from ‘trusted’ sources which were accredited by a chosen authority. Are you able to elaborate?
The checklist of ‘trusted’ sources ought to are available June. We’re going to look into a wide range of components that would come with checking the antecedents of the provider, to discovering out trustworthiness of the organisation. Additionally, we need to perceive the provider’s capability to make sure cyber safety. So far as the Chinese language gamers are involved, when their apps posed an issue, we exercised sovereign powers to maintain them away. All I can say is that enable the system to work correctly. All components of belief shall be factored in.
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