“Social Media Users’ Verification Not Mandatory”: Centre

New Delhi: Minister of State for Electronic and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar has said that the government does not intends to make social media user’s verification mandatory, in view of privacy issue.

The government has notified the Information Technology rules in February last year, for ensuring that the internet is open, safe, trusted and accountable to all users, he said while addressing the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

“And we will continue to expand the scope of those kinds of rule to ensure that internet is safe and trusted,” he added.

He was replying to questions from members of the Congress and DMK.

Sharing concerns raised by a Congress Member Abdul Khaleque, he said, “The internet and technology have empowered people and transformed their lives and governance, being ‘a platform for good’, but user harm, criminality and fake news type of issues are also on the rise.”

“I empathise with what you are saying but our approach is not to make it (verification of the users) mandatory,” he said.

He said that the provisions made in the new IT rules are made keeping in mind dealing with the issues of safety and trust online, and misuse of social media leading to law and order problems in the country.

He said, “According to the rules, an intermediary is required to identify the first originator of information for the purposes of investigation, prevention, investigation, prosecution of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the State, or incitement of an offence.”

He said that the matter is sub-judice today because WhatsApp has challenged it in the Delhi High Court. “Very robustly,” the government has defended the provisions in the court, he asserted.

Congress Member Manish Tiwari questioned, “What prevents the government from making the social media users’ verification mandatory?” To which he replied, that the government is interested in balancing the issue of privacy.

“We believe that the rules promulgated in February 2021 cast an obligation on the intermediaries to be able to detect and identify the first originator of any criminal activity,” he said.

“While the matter has been challenged by some intermediaries (in court), the government is robustly defending its position that this anonymity cannot be a blanket one,” he added.

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