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WhatsApp Appoints 'Grievance Officer' to Keep Up With India's New IT Laws, App Reveals

CC0 / Pixabay / WhatsApp logo
WhatsApp logo - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.06.2021
In an attempt to control what appears in India's cyberspace, the government passed new rules in February which require each social networking platform to appoint an engineering liaison officer to help law-enforcement agencies with their inquiries and a grievance officer to assist users who are having problems with their apps.

In compliance with India’s digital laws, WhatsApp has appointed Paresh B. Lal as its grievance officer in the country. Although the Facebook-owned messaging platform has yet to announce his appointment officially, a new tab has appeared in the app's section for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) which is headed “How To Contact The Grievance Officer” and giving Lal’s name and an address in Hyderabad city, in the state of Telangana. 

Details of Lal’s CV aren't as yet available, but his new role includes being responsible for acknowledging user complaints within 24 hours and for resolving serious problems within 15 days of their being flagged up.

The news comes just a day after Delhi High Court served Twitter with a legal notice, directing it to comply with the country’s IT rules.

Twitter has been advised to appoint a grievance officer and to comply with other requirements of India's IT laws that were released to regulate the digital space in February this year.

Facebook logo and other social media apps are seen on a screen of mobile phone - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.05.2021
Here's Everything That's Transpired Between Indian Gov't & Social Networking Apps Within 24 Hours
The High Court heard a petition filed by an Indian lawyer, Amit Acharya, claiming that Twitter had not complied with India's IT laws by the deadline of 25 May. The Indian lawyer added that he had been able to confirm Twitter's non-compliance with the digital rules after he had tried to lodge a complaint against some tweets recently and had not received the response he expected under IT rules.

Twitter, however, claimed in the court that it is adhering to the government rules and has appointed a grievance officer to manage user complaints on its platform. However, the microblogging site did not reveal any details about its “grievance officer”.

The Delhi High Court has given Twitter until 6 June to get a grievance officer on board on record and officially, this being the date of the petition's next hearing.

Last week, India's Government wrote to social networking giants asking them to submit a compliance report around the IT rules as soon as possible.

Along with requiring grievance and engineering liaison officers for each platform, the rules also demand that social networking apps must help security agencies trace the origin of problematic content on their platform – for investigations in very serious cases.

Facebook and Twitter are reluctant to agree to this stipulation, citing users' privacy concerns. WhatsApp even sued the Indian government in Delhi High Court over the traceability rule.

Non-compliance with the rules, however, would cost these platforms their status as an intermediary that provides them with immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by them in India. 

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