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India's parliamentary panel recommends a regulator for Twitter, Facebook

Indias parliamentary panel recommends a regulator for Twitter, Facebook

New Delhi: The high-level committee appointed by the parliament said that Twitter and Facebook should be seen as publishers and recommended setting up a regulator to oversee both social media platforms.

If the suggestion comes into effect, it will reduce the legal protection Twitter and Facebook has from users' content. The panel reviewed the personal data protection bill introduced in 2019 before making the recommendations, reported NDTV.

Head of the panel, P.P. Chaudhary said that the recommendations will be presented in parliament during the winter session which starts on Nov 29.

The bill was to protect users' privacy and enforce strict controls on how companies like Google and Amazon collect, process, and store data. Stricter rules are being recommended because current laws treat social media as intermediaries and it hasn't done enough in terms of regulation.

As of now, social media platforms are not being held liable for user-generated content as long as they are following the Intermediary Guidelines issued earlier this year. Tech firms have already set up offices in India and appointed compliance officials to prevent certain types of content.

Sources told NDTV that the provisions in the current personal data protection bill are too broad. A mechanism may be devised for social media platforms to be held accountable for the content coming from unverified accounts. If these recommendations are included in the revised bill, the operations of public and private companies in the social media market will be heavily affected.

The Supreme Court had ruled privacy as a fundamental individual right two years before the BJP government came up with data protection legislation.

The panel is in favour of expanding the bill's coverage to non-personal data and recommended that approximately 24 months should be given to implementing the provisions of the act. This will give time to data-related companies to make necessary changes in their policies, infrastructure, and processes.

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