India’s New Social Media Rules Seen Echoing Globally

India’s new social media rules, notified last week, could be emulated by other countries such as the US, the UK, and Australia, according to experts. These countries have been pressing social networks to take responsibility for the content on their platforms besides wanting tighter data-handling practices. Some experts said the rules infringe upon freedom of expression and privacy.
India is among the top three internet markets with close to 700 million users and its digital policymaking is being followed closely. If companies accede to government diktats in India, they can’t refuse to do elsewhere, according to the internet and legal experts. India’s ban of Chinese short video app TikTok had been cited in the US executive order seeking a similar halt on the Bytedance-owned company. In the past, India’s demand for traceability had also found resonance in countries such as the US, the UK, and Australia.
The new Intermediary Liability Rules mandate social media companies with over 5 million users in India to not just enable traceability of end-to-end encrypted messages, but also establish local offices with senior officials to deal with law enforcement and user grievances. They also have to alter their interface to clearly distinguish verified users from others, apart from setting up automated tools for content filtration and informing users if their accounts have been blocked with explanations.
The new rules are part of a global shift following the mass shooting in New Zealand that was live-streamed by the gunman on Facebook and a US executive order to revisit a law that gave absolute immunity to social media platforms, said Pavan Duggal, a Supreme Court advocate, and cyber expert.

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