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social media accounts: no link between government identity and individuals’ social media accounts: MeitY

Chenai: There are no proposals to pass a separate law to authenticate social media accounts or to link a government identity to individuals’ social media accounts, the government said on Wednesday. Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said so in a written response to a question posed to the Lok Sabha whether the government intended to curb the spread of fake news through such means.

The government said it was aware of the risks and dangers posed by fake news and the spread of misinformation through social media platforms, but said it had taken several steps to address these challenges.

“The Government has notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Code of Ethics) Rules 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) under the Information Technology Act ( Computer Act) 2000 to make social media platforms accountable to their users and improve user safety online,” he said in a written response.

He went on to add that under these rules, the major social media intermediary (SSMI) would allow users who register for their services from India, or use their services in India, to voluntarily verify their accounts by using any appropriate mechanism, “including such users’ active Indian mobile phone number, and when a user voluntarily verifies their account, such user shall be provided with a demonstrable and visible verification mark.”

This SSMI mainly providing a messaging service should also identify the first sender of the information for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or repression of an offence, the government added.

The government said the 2021 IT rules published on February 25, 2021 also require intermediaries to publish their platform’s privacy policy and terms of use. They have also been mandated to inform their users not to host, post, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share harmful, objectionable and illegal information in any way.

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“They are also bound to remove any illegal content related to Section 19(2) of the Constitution of India or contrary to any law as it comes to their notice either by order court, or by notice from the appropriate government or its agency. The Rules also require online news publishers to abide by the Code of Ethics.”

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