Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said that the government has no issue around the use of social media but over abuse and misuse of the platforms. The Minister said that the government is the voice of those who are victimised on social media and wants platforms to set up grievance redressal mechanisms in the country. "You must have grievance redressal mechanisms so that if any one has a complaint then that complaint can be registered there. The issue is not the use of social media. The issue is abuse and misuse of social media," Prasad said at India Economic Conclave. The Minister said the government is not against criticism.
"The Prime Minister has been the biggest victim of the falsehood campaign for more than 20 years based on utter lies... We welcome dissent. We welcome criticism and that criticism can extend to the Prime Minister, to all the Ministers and to all the government," Prasad said.
The Minister was responding to questions around social media rules and recent government orders. The government in February announced sweeping regulations for social media firms like Facebook and Twitter as well as OTT players such as Netflix, requiring them to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours and setting up a complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country.
The guidelines also make it mandatory for platforms such as Twitter and WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message that authorities consider to be anti-national and against security and sovereignty of the country. The rules about digital media and OTT focus more on in-house and self-regulation mechanisms whereby a robust grievance redressal mechanism has been provided while upholding journalistic and creative freedom.
This is the first time such rules have been framed for digital and online media operating within the country''s jurisdiction. The Minister said that the rules were framed after one and half years of public consultation. He said that the government wants to know about rogue elements on social media platforms.
"Let me ask you a question. Is it not a fact that on the same issue on the same day in the same area around the same time lakhs of messages are circulated, become viral. We are asking who did this mischief. Who started the mischief? That's all.We are not going to see the content. The content is already in the public domain. We want to see who in India started this mischief. If someone has sent from abroad, then who started it in India," Prasad said.