Social media platforms and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Wednesday presented a ‘Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Election 2019’ to the Election Commission. “This code will become effective and will enter into force on March 20, 2019,” they said in a statement, adding that it would remain operational during the election. The code’s purpose is to identify measures that the platforms can take to increase confidence in the electoral process. It is also to safeguard against misuse that vitiates the “free and fair character” of the Lok Sabha polls.
According to the code, the platforms 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 on electoral matters.
Campaigns will be organised to create awareness, including on electoral laws and other instructions from the Election Commission of India (EC).
The platforms and the Commission have developed a notification mechanism by which the electoral body can notify them of potential violations under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, and on other matters.
“These valid legal orders will be acknowledged and/or processed within three 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,” said the Code.
A high-priority dedicated reporting mechanism is being created for the EC and dedicated persons appointed for the purpose. The platforms will also ensure that political advertisements by parties or their candidates are pre-certified.
“Participants will, pursuant to a valid request received from the EC, via Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), provide an update on the measures taken by them to prevent abuse of their respective platforms,” it said. The IAMAI will coordinate with the platforms on the steps taken under the code.