New IT rules will empower users, says Ashwini Vaishnaw

Ashwini Vaishnaw, the newly appointed Union Minister of Electronics and IT, Communication and Railways, said on Sunday that the new Information Technology Rules will empower users and create a responsible social media ecosystem in the country, while reviewing the implementation and compliance of the rules which came into effect from May 26.

Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar was also present during the review meeting with officials from the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY).

“These guidelines are empowering and protecting users and will ensure a safer and responsible social media ecosystem in India,” Vaishnaw said on homegrown micro-blogging platform Koo, which he joined on Sunday.

The post was exclusively shared on Koo, which has been gaining in popularity amid the government’s stand-off with US-based Twitter over its alleged non-compliance with India’s new IT Intermediary Guidelines.

Vaishnaw has over the last week held meetings with ministry officials and has taken stock of various key initiatives such as the Digital India programme and the National Supercomputing Mission run by the Centre for Development for Advanced Computing (CDAC).

Soon after taking charge on Thursday, Vaishnaw had made clear that the social networking platform
Twitter must follow India’s laws.

“Law of the land is supreme, Twitter must follow the rules,” Vaishnaw had said, in his first public comments after taking over the IT portfolio.

The issue of Twitter’s non-compliance is also being heard in courts.

The San Francisco-based company admitted to the Delhi High Court on Thursday that it was in breach of the new Intermediary Guidelines. It sought more time to comply with the rules, which include hiring three key officers and setting up a permanent contact address. On Sunday, it appointed Vinay Prakash as its grievance officer in the country.

Three issues with global implications will need Vaishnaw’s immediate attention, industry watchers have said.

One, where global tech giants are fighting back against India’s new social intermediary guidelines; two, the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill and especially its clauses on data localisation; and three, the survival of Vodafone Idea — the cash-strapped telecom JV between UK’s Vodafone Group Plc and India’s diversified Aditya Birla Group.

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