News Broadcasting Association (NBA) President and India TV Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma has written a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar over new social media guidelines for news channels and digital platforms. He has requested Javadekar to provide some relaxation in the rules to ensure hassle-free operations.
He said that parameters are already in place for news channels and their digital platforms. He said that news channels follow self-regulatory guidelines. Channels are following the guidelines under the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) since 2008, therefore, "there is no need of new rules".
His letters came amid a raging tug of war between the government and social media platforms over new IT rules. The government had in February issued new guidelines for social media platforms and asked them to implement the new rules by May 25.
The new IT rules for social media companies, which came into effect from Wednesday, are aimed at making digital platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Google - which have seen a phenomenal surge in usage over the past few years in India - more accountable and responsible for the content hosted on their platform. The new rules, which were announced on February 25, require large social media players to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
'Significant social media intermediaries' - defined as those with over 50 lakh registered users - were given three months' time to comply with the additional requirements. Non-compliance with rules, will result in these social media companies losing their intermediary status that provides them exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for action.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad earlier today said that WhatsApp users have nothing to fear about new social media rules, that are designed to prevent abuse and misuse of platforms, and offer users a robust forum for grievance redressal. "The rules only empower the ordinary users of social media when they become victims of abuse and misuse," Prasad posted on micro-blogging platform Koo, and also tweeted. The government fully recognises and respects the right of privacy, he asserted.