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IT rules give 72 hours but remove illegal content as fast as possible

IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Saturday said while social media norms require platforms to remove illegal content within 72 hours of being flagged, he feels the timelines are “too long” and platforms should takedown such content “as fast as possible”.

Chandrasekhar said the IT Ministry had been keen on prescribing a 24-hour timeline for removal of illegal content (as specified under rules) given that “virality and velocity” of misinformation tends to be much higher, but then finally settled for 72 hours after wide consultations.

“Frankly I am of the opinion that 72 hours is too long…it was 24 hours during consultation, but it was widely felt that this is still early days and let us keep it at 72 hours and then progressively as the platforms gain capacity and capability, we will create a shorter window,” the minister said.

His message to social media platforms: “Letter of IT rules says 72 hours but the spirit should be as fast as possible”.

The complaints around illegal content could range from child sexual abuse material to nudity to trademark and patent infringements, misinformation, impersonation of another person, content threatening the unity and integrity of the country as well as “obectionable” content that promotes “enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or caste with the intent to incite violence”.

The rules provide for social media platforms to take down certain contentious content within 72 hours of reporting.

Under the new IT rules that came into effect on Friday, platforms will have greater onus to do due diligence and make reasonable effort to remove illegal content on their own.

“If you are unable to do it with your content moderation, algorithm, people etc when reported, that content has to come down in 72 hours,” he said, but added that all efforts need to be made to take down such content much more quickly. PTI

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