Social media companies begin updating names of grievance officers in India

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Social media companies including Twitter, Google and Facebook have begun updating the names of their grievance officers, as required by the new Information Technology Rules, 2021.

While Twitter India appointed Dharmendra Chatur as its interim resident grievance officer for India, based in Bengaluru, WhatsApp named Paresh B Lal as its grievance officer, based in Hyderabad. 

"To contact the Grievance Officer, please send an email with your complaint or concern and sign with an electronic signature. If you're contacting us about a specific account, please include your phone number in full international format, including the country code," WhatsApp said on its website. 

Google also said that "to serve any summons or notices in civil proceedings against Google LLC in India", Joe Grier, based in Mountain View, California can be contacted. 

Facebook has named Spoorthi Priya as their grievance officer for India. It has also provided a Delhi-based address in case a user wants to contact the grievance via post.

Apple, whose iMessage service is also end-to-end encrypted, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Signal, the messaging service touted as the most popular alternative to WhatsApp, also did not respond to a request for comment.

The new IT Rules, 2021, which came into effect on May 25, require intermediaries like Google, Facebook, Twitter and so on, to "prominently publish on its website,mobile based application or both,as the case may be, the name of the Grievance Officer and his contact details as well as mechanism by which a user or a victim may make complaint against violation of the provisions of this rule or any other matters pertaining top the computer resources made available by it". 

Last week, WhatsApp filed a legal challenge against the Indian government, protesting before the Delhi High Court new IT rules that would require messaging services to “trace” the origin of particular messages.

Under the recently notified Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, social media intermediaries with more than 5 million users and providing messaging services will have to enable identification of the first originator of problematic content that may harm the country's interests and several other provisions described in the Rules. 

Services like WhatsApp, Signal and iMessage would be among the ones impacted by the implementation of this rule. Traceability means they will have to break end-to-end encryption.

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