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ShareChat wants tighter laws for foreign platforms

ShareChat said India needs a framework to protect children under the age of 18 online, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the US. It, however, made clear that it was against the proposed rule to proactively monitor content. Share-Chat’s demand flies in the face of concerns expressed by industry group Internet and Mobile Association of India.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 09, 2020, 08.15 AM IST
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ShareChat has written to IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad about this.
BENGALURU: ShareChat, a Twitter-backed homegrown social media platform, has written to Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking stricter laws against foreign social media platforms.

This comes with just a week to go before the government finalises amendments to the IT Act’s Intermediaries Guidelines. The proposed amendments are aimed at making technology platforms more accountable for the content that they host.

The draft guidelines, introduced in 2018, had alarmed many US internet companies and privacy rights activists. Many technology companies, including ShareChat, Reliance Jio and Paytm, had however supported the draft.

In the letter, sent on Tuesday, ShareChat said foreign technology platforms with at least 1million daily active users should mandatorily set up office in India and be answerable to Indian law enforcement agencies.

This is a clear departure from the proposed threshold of 5 million users in the draft. The company has also sought that all platforms ensure traceability of messages and provide metadata based on lawful requests.

ShareChat also demanded a new legal framework in India that creates supervision, the need to report compliance, and has powers of audit or investigation.

It said the current legal framework provides limited policy tools to the government to regulate the conduct of social media platforms, as the IT Act only regulates adherence to the due diligence standards on a content-by-content basis. “The goal of a code of practice is to set out a duty of care for the platform towards its users, especially vulnerable groups. The government could consider empowering a body to develop and enforce codes of practices and prescribe financial penalties for non-compliance,” ShareChat’s Head of Public Policy Berges Y Malu wrote in the letter.

ET has seen a copy of the letter. ShareChat confirmed the development, but declined to comment further. ShareChat said India needs a framework to protect children under the age of 18 online, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the US.

It, however, made clear that it was against the proposed rule to proactively monitor content. Share-Chat’s demand flies in the face of concerns expressed by industry group Internet and Mobile Association of India.

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