New Delhi, angry with Twitter for ignoring the request to delete accounts, wants content removed within 36 hours when asked.
Due to a dispute with Twitter, India plans to force social media companies to promptly erase contentious content and help with investigations, according to a draft regulation.
New Delhi’s planned intermediary guidelines and digital media code of ethics – a copy of which was seen by Reuters news agency – come as various countries around the world attempt to assert tighter scrutiny over powerful big tech companies.
Facebook faced a global backlash from publishers and politicians last week after blocking news feeds in Australia in a dispute with the government over revenue sharing.
In India, Twitter has ignored content removal orders following farmer protests, bolstering the zeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since 2018 to tighten the regulation of content it deems misinformation or illegal.
The latest draft rules – which would be legally enforceable – state that companies should remove content as soon as possible but no later than 36 hours after a government or legal order.
They must also participate in investigations or other incidents related to cybersecurity within 72 hours of a request.
Additionally, if a post depicts an individual in sexual act or conduct, companies must disable or remove that content within one day of receiving a complaint, the rules added.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Twitter, which has not removed all accounts the government claimed to be spreading lies about months-long protests by farmers against farm laws, declined to comment.
“Use caution and discretion”
The draft proposal also requires companies to appoint a compliance officer, another executive to coordinate enforcement and a “complaints officer.”
All must be resident Indian citizens.
The electronics and information technology ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It was not known when the rules would be announced or if they might undergo further changes.
Industry sources say new regulations could affect the investment plans of large tech companies in India and increase compliance concerns. The rules would also apply to other digital and online media, according to the draft proposal.
“A publisher must take into consideration India’s multiracial and multireligious context and exercise caution and discretion when presenting the activities, beliefs, practices or opinions of any racial or religious group,” the draft regulation states.
With respect to films and other entertainment, including web serials, the draft rules provided for a “rating” to describe content and advise discretion.
Streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have been the subject of obscenity complaints in India.
Police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday questioned an Amazon executive for nearly four hours about allegations that a political drama, Tandav, has hurt religious feelings and angered the public.