June 18, 2024

MUMBAI (Reuters) -India has sent notices to social media platforms X, formerly known as Twitter, YouTube and Telegram asking them to ensure there is no child sexual abuse material on their platforms, the government said on Friday.

The companies could be stripped of their protection from legal liability if they don’t comply, the government said in a statement.

The notices, sent by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), emphasised the importance of prompt and permanent removal of any child sexual abuse material on the platforms.

“If they do not act swiftly, their safe harbour under section 79 of the IT Act would be withdrawn and consequences under the Indian law will follow,” the junior minister for information technology, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, was quoted as saying in the statement.

Chandrasekhar has been a vocal advocate for removing such content from the internet in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was determined “to build a safe and trusted internet under the IT rules”, the government said.

Telegram said child abuse materials were explicitly forbidden by its terms of service.

“Telegram’s moderators actively patrol public parts of the platform and accept user reports in order to remove content that breaches our terms,” Telegram said on Saturday.

Representatives for X and Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The government, in the notices, also asked companies to take measures, such as content moderation algorithms and reporting mechanisms, to prevent the dissemination of child sexual abuse material in future.

Reuters reported in July that India had told online streamers like Netflix and Disney that their content should be independently reviewed for obscenity and violence before being shown online.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Additional reporting by Shubhendu Deshmukh in Bangalore Editing by Susan Fenton, Robert Birsel)

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