Even as significant social media intermediaries slam the government over the Information Technology (IT) rules which have now come into force, companies have now begun updating websites to reflect the changes required. Large social media companies have to appoint a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and grievance officer, and users can now write to the grievance officer in case of queries. WhatsApp on Tuesday updated its grievance officer section on its website, with Paresh B Lal as its grievance officer. You may also contact the Grievance Officer via post at the following address: Post Box No. 56, Road No. 1, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad - 500 034 or email at grievance_officer_wa@support.
â€śPlease do not use the Grievance Officer channel for any law enforcement requests, or to serve any legal process,â€ť WhatsApp wrote in its FAQ section. Similarly, Facebookâ€™s website names Spoorthi Priya, who can be contacted at FBGOIndia@fb.com. Additionally, as required by the rules, the person can be reached at 216 Okhla Industrial Estate, Phase III, New Delhi - 110020 via post.
While Googleâ€™s grievance section has forms for various Google products, the website has listed Joe Grier for any summons or notices in civil proceedings against Google LLC in India to be addressed. It however hasnâ€™t mentioned a grievance officer for India or an address. Twitter on Monday also announced the appointment of an interim resident grievance officer for India. Twitter appointed Dharmendra Chatur, who can be reached at fourth floor, The Estate, 121, Dickenson Road, Bengaluru - 560042 or grievance-officer-in@twitter.
The IT rules require a Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal contact person for coordination with law enforcement agencies and a Resident Grievance Officer to be Indian residents. Last week, the IT Ministry told PTI that large social media companies like Google, Facebook and WhatsApp have shared details with the IT Ministry as per the requirement of the new digital rules, but Twitter had not yet done so. Twitter has not sent details of the chief compliance officer to the IT Ministry, and shared details of a lawyer working in a law firm as nodal contact person and grievance officer, the sources said, according to PTI.
This came after Twitter expressed concern over the use of intimidation tactics by the police after it gave a manipulated media tag to tweets by a spokesperson of the BJP, and said it is concerned about employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression. Twitter said it will strive to comply with applicable law in India to keep its service available in the country. The microblogging platform said it plans to advocate for changes to elements of IT rules that inhibit free, open public conversation .
While the government called it "totally baseless, false and an attempt to defame India", Delhi Police said the statement was "mendacious" and designed to impede a lawful inquiry. Under the new rules, social media companies like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have been asked to identify within 36 hours, the originator of a flagged message, as well as conduct additional due diligence, apart from the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.
Non-compliance with rules would result in these platforms losing their intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints. After the new norms came into effect on May 26, the IT Ministry had turned up the heat on significant social media companies, asking them to immediately report compliance and provide details of the three key officials appointed.