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India will not be cowed in the internet consultations: tech minister

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India is holding a broad consultation with the companies of the internet before finalizing rules to regulate content on the social media, but will not hold back from framing laws that govern the protection of national interest, the country’s technology minister said.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook-logo is shown in front of the Twitter logo, in this picture-October 25, 2017. REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Image/File Photo

India, one of the world’s largest internet markets, which at the end of December, proposed rules that force platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp messenger service and Twitter to be removed within 24 hours of unlawful content, such as everything that affects the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

The draft rules have prompted intense lobbying by technology companies, which say that the proposals are “burdensome obligations”.

The rules, if implemented in their current form, probably also to higher costs for businesses by requiring them to monitor online content, around the clock.

New Delhi, which is in the process of finalizing the so-called intermediary rules, it will be fair for all stakeholders, technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters on the sidelines of an IT conference in the financial capital of Mumbai on Wednesday.

“We are honest, we are the target, but India has the sovereign right to frame rules and laws will always be there,” he said.

The draft rules also come at a time when India, the largest democracy in the world, head for a general election for May, and social media is a hotbed for the circulation of fake political news.

Social media giant Facebook this month, said the toughening its policies for the creation of more transparency before the vote. It also expanded its fact-checking network.

Rival Google has also conducted numerous workshops across the country to train journalists to verify news.

“As a minister, I want to assure that a social media company is not permitted to exploit the data from the native americans to influence elections,” Prasad said.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by David Goodman

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