Based on reports coming from the conversation that the Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, had with the members of the press in the Asia Pacific it is pretty evident that the company is looking to access all avenues to comply with the new regulations mandated by the Indian Government. The revised IT rules have come into effect this Wednesday, the 26th of May.
Pichai noted to the assembly, that although these are early days the local team for Google in the region is looking into all available measures. He assured that Google always aims to maintain compliance with the local laws and will approach this situation through a similar approach. He further stated that, “We engage and explain to everyone the importance of information, promoting (the) free flow of information, but do want to respect legislative processes in democratic countries.”
The India born CEO of Google, further went on to clarify that the company is committed to complying with all the laws and to the extent that the law stipulates the provision of information on users, the company will comply with the legislative norms and include information on the same through their transparency reports. This is in adherence to the framework that the company follows in all regions across the world.
All this is in response to the message set out by the Government of India to all the major internet and social media platforms seeking updates regarding compliance with the new IT legislations. The new regulations is applicable to internet and social media platforms with over 5 million users, who now have to appoints local grievance officers, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person, whose details along with a physical contact address are published on their website. The rules also require the companies to maintain traceability of messages sent online along with provisions for voluntary verification as a means to establish user identity.
“We respect the sovereignty of countries and the legislative processes. We work hard to adapt and function and where we need to push back, we do that. It is a balance we have stuck around the world. India is a vibrant place where we are able to provide a lot of information across a lot of our products and so will operate with that framework,” added Pichai.
The other social media websites, however, have not been so amicable to the changes. Whatsapp, owned by Facebook has filed a case in the Delhi High Court against the implementation of the new IT legislations, especially the provision for the tracing and tracking of originators of messages. They claim and argue that this law violates the right to privacy of their users. The Government, in its turn has retorted suggesting that the attempts by the Facebook-owned social media company to portray the laws as violating the right to privacy is misguided and baseless.
Pichai, in his address, noted that the shift in the regulatory frameworks for the technology companies can be seen as a worldwide phenomenon. He posited his own thoughts on the changing landscape stating that, “It’s an evolving landscape. Tech is touching society, you know, in more deeper and broader ways and the pace of change is fast. We fully expect governments, rightfully, to both scrutinize and adopt regulatory frameworks, (whether) it’s Europe copyright directive or India with information regulation. We see it as a natural part of societies figuring out how to govern and adapt themselves in this technology world. As a company, we are very clear about the values of free and open internet and its benefits.”