The chief executive officer of US-based Google, Sundar Pichai, said the tech giant is committed to complying with India’s new IT rules which came into effect on May 25.
He said Google’s local teams are engaged in talks with the government and that it will approach the new rules with the same framework as it does for others, i.e. complying with local laws. Mr. Pichai added that Google wants to respect the laws of all countries.
“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,” he said. The India-born top Google executive said the company will include requests (on information on users) in its transparency reports.
“We are committed to complying with the laws. And to the extent, there are requests for information on users we comply with and we will include that in our transparency reports. It is a framework with which we will operate it around the world,” he added.
On 26th May, the Indian government wrote to social media intermediary companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, asking them for the status of their compliance with its new digital rules, the deadline for which ended on May 25.
These rules make it mandatory for internet and social media companies with over 5 million users to take certain measures, including having a local grievance officer, chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person. Their details along with their contacts must be published on the company’s website.
The new guidelines for social media also mandate companies to trace the originator of any message. There’s also a provision for voluntary verification to establish the user’s identity.
Mr. Pichai also said Google works hard to comply with local norms of different governments and it does “push back” where it needs to. “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,” he said.
Compliance and arguments
The deadline to comply with the new IT rules of intermediaries has caused a great deal of concern for users of still non-compliant social media and messaging giants like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter if that would affect the access and features on such apps.
Facebook has said it will comply with government norms while engaging in active talks with officials. WhatsApp has approached the Delhi High court, seeking relief against the new rules that seek to trace the origin of a message, among other provisions, calling the rules a violation of the right to privacy.
“Requiring messaging apps to “trace” chats is the equivalent of asking us to keep a fingerprint of every single message sent on WhatsApp, which would break end-to-end encryption and fundamentally undermines people’s right to privacy,” WhatsApp said in its statement.