The government neither controls social media intermediaries nor casts any fetters on the freedom of expression of their users, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said that the IT Rules, 2021, cast specific obligations on the intermediaries that no intermediaries shall violate the rights accorded to citizens under the constitution.
“The government does not interfere or control social media intermediaries and also does not cast any fetters on freedom of expression on their users. The IT Rules, 2021, casts specific obligations on the intermediaries that no intermediaries shall not violate the rights accorded to citizens under the Constitution,” the minister said.
He said that the government’s objective is to ensure an open, safe, trusted and accountable internet for citizens.
In response to a question of whether the government proposes to appoint an officer to hold the accountability of social media, the minister shared that Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, known as IT Rules, 2021, cast a specific obligation on intermediaries around kind of information is to be hosted, displayed, uploaded, published, transmitted, stored or shared.
Under the rules, intermediaries are also required to remove any content violative of any law for the time being in force as and when brought to their knowledge either through a court order or through a notice by the appropriate government or its authorised agency.
“In case of failure to follow diligence as provided in the IT Rules, 2021, by intermediaries, they shall lose their exemption from liability under section 79 of the IT Act and shall be liable for consequential action as provided in such law,” the minister said.
Chandrasekhar in response to a question on action taken by the government against social media companies said that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued directions for blocking a total of 6,775 web links in the year 2022, which include URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) for webpages, websites and content and accounts on social media platforms.