BENGALURU: Big tech firms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter may lose their social intermediary status and can also face criminal prosecution as a result of their non-compliance with the new set of IT regulations proposed by the Ministry of Information technology and electronics(Meity).
Top sources tracking the development said that there is no ban on these platforms in the offing, however, non-compliance will invite stricter action against top firm executives including penalization and arrests.
IT ministry on Wednesday asked the social media firms to report the status of their compliance with new digital rules after they failed to meet the deadline. Meity had earlier given a three months deadline to all the significant social media intermediaries with a user base of above 50 lakh to comply with the fresh set of guidelines. This included the appointment of officials for redressal of user concerns, government queries as well as tracking the originator of the messages ( user details) in case of requests made by the country’s law enforcement agencies.
According to Internet Freedom Foundation, the Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011 did not specify any consequences upon the intermediaries for failing to comply with the provisions of the Rules; the consequence was relatively direct -- they lost immunity.
The Intermediaries Rules, 2021 however, expressly state a loss of immunity and indicate a level of severity of consequences, including potential criminal prosecution under provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code, it added.
IFF told this publication in a statement that at least six writ petitions have been filed across various courts of the country against the new set of IT rules while describing them as contentious, undermining user privacy. IFF has provided legal assistance to LiveLaw Media Private Limited in its challenge before the High Court of Kerala, it added.
“The rules throw a big challenge for intermediaries operating with end-to-end encryption messaging or posts. In such situations, it would be intrusive for them to go through the messages that are “offensive” or not in compliance with the rules. To follow rules, the privacy of users may be at risk,” Neeraj Dubey, Partner, Singh & Associates said.
Jiten Jain, CEO of, Indian Infosec Consortium said that Whatsapp‘s plea before the Delhi High Court accusing the Centre of invading user privacy through the IT rules is an argument of convenience.