India will continue to partner with foreign and private companies but will also be very careful about ensuring that the Internet remains free and open and is not dominated by big corporates, Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar said at the Fuel for India 2021 virtual conference by Meta (formerly Facebook) today. The minister was speaking to Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan at the event.
Chandrasekhar said that the Indian government's point of view is not just to connect a billion Indians, but to ensure that the internet should continue to be open. He said that the Internet should remain safe, trusted and accountable to the principal stakeholders, the users and consumers.
"We also want to make sure that intermediaries and big platforms, such as Facebook, develop a culture of mutual respect and accountability between the platform and the users,” he added.
Further, the MoS emphasised the fact that a billion Indians, including women, children and the elderly are going to be on the Internet, which is why the government wants to ensure that the Internet is also safe and trusted.
Chandrashekhar isn't the first government official to voice concerns over the possibility of Big Tech abusing its dominance. The same has been shared by regulators and government agencies in other countries too. First like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are also under the scanner in India for alleged anti-competitive practices.
For instance, Google is facing a probe by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for promoting its payments service Google Pay over others, forcing smart TV brands to pre-install Google apps and for imposing its payments gateway on developers using the Google Play Store for distributing apps.
Earlier this year, India notified new, stricter guidelines for social media intermediaries under the ‘Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules). It aims at making intermediaries, particularly social media platforms, more accountable to public and government agencies. Social media platforms, including Twitter have been at loggerheads with the government, while Meta-owned WhatsApp has sued the government over the new IT Rules.