Social Media’s “Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019”

The Social Media Platforms and Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), on 20th March 2019 presented a “Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019” to

  1. Shri Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner
  2. Shri Ashok Lavasa, Election Commissioner
  3. Shri Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioner

This Code of Ethics was developed as a follow up to the meeting with IAMAI and representatives of Social Media Platforms including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google, ShareChat and TikTok etc. which was held on 19th March 2019.The Code voluntarily agreed upon by the Participants comes into operation with immediate effect. This code was developed together by all the participants with an intent of helping and supporting and increasing confidence in the democratic processes by improving the integrity and transparency of the electoral process. This Code became effective and entered into force on 20thMarch 2019 and will be in force for the duration of the 2019 General Elections.

Commitments made via this code:

The Participants will endeavour to meet, in good faith and to the best of their ability, the following commitments during the 2019 Lok Sabha General Elections in India:

  • Participants will endeavour to, where appropriate and keeping in mind the principle of freedom of expression, deploy appropriate policies and processes to facilitate access to information regarding electoral matters on their products and/or services.
  • Participants will endeavour to voluntarily undertake information, education and communication campaigns to build awareness including electoral laws and other related instructions. Participants will also endeavour to impart training to the nodal officer at ECI on their products/ services, including mechanism for sending requests as per procedure established by law.
  • Participants and the Election Commission of India (ECI) have developed a notification mechanism by which the ECI can notify the relevant platforms of potential violations of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and other applicable electoral laws in accordance with procedures established by law. These valid legal orders will be acknowledged and/ or processed within 3 hours for violations reported under Section 126 as per the Sinha Committee recommendations. All other valid legal requests will be acted upon expeditiously by the Participants, based on the nature of reported violation.
  • Participants are creating/opening a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism for the ECI and appoint dedicated person(s) / teams during the period of General Elections to interface with and to exchange feedback as may assist with taking expeditious action upon receipt of such a lawful request, following due legal process, from the ECI.
  • Participants will provide a mechanism for relevant political advertisers, in ;accordance with their obligations under law, to submit pre-certificates issued by ECI and/ or Media Certification & Monitoring Committee (MCMC) of the ECI in relation to election advertisements that feature names of political parties, candidates for the 2019 General Elections. Further, Participants shall expeditiously process/action paid political advertisements lawfully notified to Participants by the ECI that do not feature such certification.
  • Participants will commit to facilitating transparency in paid political advertisements, including utilising their pre-existing labels/ disclosure technology for such advertisements.
  • Participants will, pursuant to a valid request received from the ECI, via Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) provide an update on the measures taken by them to prevent abuse of their respective platforms.
  • IAMAI will coordinate with the Participants on the steps carried out under this Code and IAMAI as well as Participants will be in constant communication with the ECI during the election period.

However it has also been specifically mentioned that in case there is any conflict between the code’s framework and the existing legal framework, the legal framework will prevail.

Copy of press release:

Copy of the “Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019”:

-Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *