Under the newly introduced Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the centre has made it compulsory for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to take down contentious content as early as possible, but not later than 36 hours, after a government or legal order.
The social media giants must provide information and co-operate with investigations within 72 hours of a request from authorities, the government said as it issued new guidelines for social media companies, Over the Top (OTT) players and digital media.
The rules also demand social media platforms track the 'first originator' of a message. The government says it is interested to know who started the 'mischief' and is not interested in the content.
The rules also mention that platforms must take down content that shows an individual in a sexual act or conduct, or in full or partial nudity, within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.
"A publisher shall take into consideration India's multi-racial and multi-religious context and exercise due caution and discretion when featuring the activities, beliefs, practices, or views of any racial or religious group," the rules said.
As per the rules, the intermediary should inform the user of computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that is false, misleading or defamatory in nature.
"Users should be informed to not publish any information that is harmful to minors, infringes patents, or violates the law," the rules mentioned.
The rules also expect companies to inform users not to post any content that threatens the "unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states."
The rules also carry the right to terminate the access or usage rights of the users to the computer resource immediately or remove it in case of non-compliance.
Furthermore, as per the rules, platforms should appoint a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) within 3 months from the date of publication of these rules.
The CCO will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and rules.
Companies should also appoint a nodal person of contact for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies to ensure compliance with their orders.