Twitter questioned on blocking accounts

The Standing Committee on Information and Technology has sought an explanation from social media giant Twitter why accounts of IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and committee Chairperson Shashi Tharoor were locked.

In a meeting held on Tuesday, representatives from Google and Facebook appeared before the committee on the subject of ‘Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms, including special emphasis on women’s security in the digital space’.

Sources said the committee members discussed the new IT rules with the representatives of both the platforms. Both Facebook and Google have said that they will comply with the new IT rules. “They said that they will comply with the new IT rules, as much as they can,” one of the members said. Facebook pointed out that it was technically impossible to intercept messages in WhatsApp. The new rules mandates tracing the origin of a particular message if required by the law enforcement agencies. Facebook explained that WhatsApp works on end to end encryption. It only sweeps metadata and no messages are intercepted or read by WhatsApp.

Earlier in the day, Facebook, announced that complying with the IT rules it would publish an interim report on the number of content it had removed proactively between May 15 and June 15.

The new IT rules which came into force from May 26 mandate large social media companies to publish periodic compliance reports every month, mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken thereon.

Non-compliance with the IT rules would result in these platforms losing their intermediary status that provides them immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them and gives them immunity from criminal culpability.

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