New Delhi: Google CEO Sundar Pichai has spoken about the new IT rules in India and whether or not the world’s most popular search engine will adopt the new framework.

Google is committed to complying with local laws and engages constructively with governments as they scrutinise and adopt regulatory frameworks to keep pace with the fast evolving technology landscape, Sundar Pichai said today.

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“It’s obviously early days and our local teams are very engaged… we always respect local laws in every country we operate in and we work constructively. We have clear transparency reports, when we comply with government requests, we highlight that in our transparency reports,” Pichai said in a virtual conference.

He called a free and open internet as being “foundational” and that India has long traditions of the same.

“As a company, we are very clear about the values of a free and open internet and the benefits it brings and we advocate for it, and we engage constructively with regulators around the world, and we participate in these processes, I think it’s a part of how we learn…” he said.

Sundar Pachai stated that Google as a company respects the legislative processes, calling it “a balance we have struck around the world”.

The Google CEO emphasised that technology is touching society in deeper ways and that the landscape is evolving at a fast pace.

“So, we fully expect governments rightfully to both scrutinize and adopt regulatory frameworks. Be it Europe with copyright directive or India with information regulation etc, we see it as a natural part of societies figuring out how to govern and adapt themselves in this technology-intensive world,” he said, adding that the company engages constructively with regulators around the world, and participates in these processes.

The new IT rules for social media companies, which came into effect on Wednesday, were announced on February 25. They require large social media players to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer.

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Platforms with over 50 lakh registered users, categorised as ‘Significant social media intermediaries’, were given three months to comply with the additional requirements as non-compliance will result in these platforms losing the intermediary status that enables them to have immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them.

Simply put, without compliance, these companies can be liable to face action with respect to content posted on their respective platforms.

Notably, WhatsApp on Wednesday moved to Delhi High Court to challenge the new regulations stating that the requirement to have traceability “would break end-to-end encryption” and that it “fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy”.

In response, the government defended the new guidelines, stating that “no fundamental right, including the right to privacy, is absolute”.

“Ordinary users of WhatsApp have nothing to fear about the new Rules. Its entire objective is to find out who started the message that led to commissioning of specific crimes mentioned in the Rules,” Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote.

(With agency inputs)



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