For New IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, Thumbs-Up from Predecessor Ravi Shankar Prasad on IT Rules

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New IT and communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday received a thumbs-up from his predecessor Ravi Shankar Prasad, who congratulated the minister for “firmly reiterating that the new IT Rules are designed to empower the safety & security of users against misuse and redress their grievances”.

Taking to Twitter, which has been in the throes of a bitter standoff with the government, Prasad said it was “assuring” to note that the micro-blogging site too has taken some steps to comply with the new rules.

During his tenure, Prasad was engaged in a heated war of words with the social media giant which lost legal protection in India for failure to comply with the new rules.

Vaishnaw, who boasts of an impressive CV and was recently inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reshuffled cabinet, on Sunday joined Twitter’s made-in-India version Koo and said the new IT Rules “are empowering and protecting users and will ensure a safer and responsible social media ecosystem in India”.

The new rules which came into effect from May 25 mandate social media companies to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for resolving complaints from the users or victims.

All significant social media companies, with over 50 lakh user base shall appoint a grievance officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officers. The big social media companies are mandated to appoint a chief compliance officer, a Nodal Contact Person and a resident grievance officer. All of them should be a resident in India.

Twitter, which had been in the eye of the storm over its alleged failure to comply with the new IT rules in India, has named Vinay Prakash as its Resident Grievance Officer for India, according to the company’s website. However, Facebook-owned WhatsApp has challenged the new IT rules for social media intermediaries requiring the messaging app to trace chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of information, saying they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional.

WhatsApp further alleged the requirement of intermediaries enabling the identification of the first originator of information in India upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits at risk. Some of the media houses have also challenged the new IT rules and the matter is sub-judice.

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