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Social media companies statutory officers must be on HQ roll – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube will need to appoint statutory officers — in line with the new IT rules — on the payroll of the global headquarters, and not hire them as part of the Indian subsidiaries.
This has been prescribed as content handling, processing and moderation is a domain of the headquarters in the US for these companies, while their subsidiaries — such as in India — are mainly tasked with advertising, marketing and promotional activities. The officers also need to be residents of India, and have to have a local postal address. “They need to be in the local time zone, and not operate from any overseas location, including the US,” sources told TOI.

The new rules have ordered the companies to appoint three statutory officers in India for coordinating the gamut of content-related activities, and liaison with the government and their users/subscribers. While the chief compliance officer shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the IT Act and Rules, the duty of the nodal contact person will be to ensure 24×7 coordination with law-enforcement agencies. The job of the grievance officer will be to handle complaints of users around content, and that person will be the local face of the HQs in India with the public at large.
According to the mandate under the new IT rules for intermediaries, the companies were asked to appoint the officers in India by May 26. While there was initially some reluctance and a delay in their appointment, most companies are now compliant (some such as Twitter have made contractual appointments for now as they look for permanent recruits).
The government believes that having representatives of the HQs in India will help in better coordination on content-related queries and demands, as previously there have been numerous cases of “inordinate delays” due to lack of direct coordination with the team in charge of content.
“Previously, all the requests were being sent to the Indian offices, which couldn’t do much as they did not have any say on content-related matters. They would generally pass on the government or user complaints to the HQs which would take its own time in taking a decision. This would delay the whole process of compliance and any possible remedial action by days, and even weeks,” a source said.
When contacted, a spokesperson for Twitter refused to comment. “We do not have any comment to offer at this time.” A spokesperson for Google and YouTube said, “As applicable to us under the new IT rules, we have appointed three officers in India.” Questions sent to Facebook and its group companies WhatsApp and Instagram did not get any formal response.





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