Splainer

Monday, June 7 2021


Dive In

A complaint has been received regarding Malayalam language being used for communication in working places in GIPMER. Whereas maximum patient and colleagues do not know this language and feel helpless causing a lot of inconvenience. So it is directed all nursing personnel to use only Hindi and English for communication. Otherwise serious action will be taken.

That poorly thought out order was issued on Saturday by the Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in Delhi. The nurses promptly rebelled and pointed out the obvious: “There are around 300-350 Malayali nursing staff at the hospital and we always talk to the patients in Hindi. Do you think they will understand anything if we talk to them in Malayalam?” The hospital has since seen the error of its ways, and done a full U-turn.

Big Story

Our first splainer birthday event!

We are delighted to announce that we will be kicking off our birthday calendar with a fab conversation with three amazing women—all talking about our fave topic: Love, Marriage, Sex Etc. They are:

 

Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan: is the author of eight books that are always a delightful read. The first ‘You Are Here’ was commissioned in 2007 and was based on her hugely popular blog Compulsive Confessions. She now writes an excellent newsletter that is totally worth signing up for.

 

Leeza Mangaldas: does a brilliant job of breaking the silence and taboos around sex and sexuality. Check out her Instagram here or the fab sex-themed I Recommend she did for us.

 

Priya Alika-Elias: is a lawyer and prolific writer. Her work has appeared everywhere from Vox to McSweeney’s to Vice. Her recent collection of essays—titled ‘Besharam’—explores a wide range of topics, including Indian parenting, body image and relationships. You can check her out on Twitter or read her interview here.

 

The time/date: Saturday, June 12, at 6:30 pm. This event is open to everyone—subscribers and founding members. Please sign up here so we have a head count:)

 

Coming up soon: A sure-to-be-amazing AMA with the indomitable and always brilliant, Shashi Tharoor.

 

Government vs Twitter: A hate story

The TLDR: When the government rolled out its new digital media rules in February, Google and Facebook made all the right noises. WhatsApp just went directly to court. But Twitter decided to take the path of passive-aggressive resistancewhich has since driven the government into full-fledged rage. We look at the latest battle in this ongoing war.

 

Remind me about these new rules…

There is a new set of regulations for all kinds of digital contentincluding streaming platforms and online news sites (explained here). But let’s stick with just social media for the purpose of this big story. 

 

The ‘safe harbour’ rule: According to section 79 of the Information Technology Act, “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted” on its platform. Basically, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc are treated like bookstore owners who cannot be responsible for content within books on their shelves. And this ‘safe harbour’ protects social media companies around the worldand is necessary to safeguard their free speech policies. 

 

The safe harbour exceptions: But in February, the government attached a string of requirements for ‘significant social media intermediaries’with 5 million-plus userswhich these companies must obey in order to still enjoy ‘safe harbour’. 

 

And these requirements are?

Here’s a full list, but these are the big ones most onerous to companies:

 

One: They must hire three key employees to address user grievances about any content posted on their platform. These include:

  • A resident grievance officer who will acknowledge all complaints within 24 hours, and resolve them within 15 days.
  • A nodal person of contact for “24x7 coordination” with law enforcement agencies.
  • A Chief Compliance Officer who is responsible for ensuring that the company is fully compliant with the IT Act.
  • All of them must reside in India and their addresses must be prominently published on the platform.

 

Point to note: The employees will be held personally liable for lack of compliance:

 

“This, legal experts said, means that if a tweet, a Facebook post or a post on Instagram violates the local laws, the law enforcement agency would be well within its rights to book not only the person sharing the content, but the executives of these companies as well. ‘Reading the provisions… suggests that this liability can even be criminal in nature where the CCO can be made to serve a prison term of up to 7 years,’ said Kazim Rizvi, founder of public policy think-tank The Dialogue.”

 

Two: The companies will have to send regular reminders to each one of us not to publish anything that is: (i) invasive of another's bodily privacy or harassing on the basis of gender; (ii) patently false or misleading but appearing as a fact; or (iii) false, with the intention of causing injury or to profit. Failure to comply with these rulescrafted by the government not the companywill result in the termination of your account. 

 

Point to note: The language used is so vague that it will be difficult to figure out what kind of content crosses the line. But that’s exactly the point.

 

Three: All information that has been deleted or disabled has to be stored up to 180 daysand it includes the records of users who have cancelled their account.

 

Four: Companies have to immediately obey any request from a court or government agency to block an account or takedown a post within 36 hours. The grounds for such a request include protecting the interest of the sovereignty or security of the state, decency, moralityand preventing anyone from inciting a crime that threatens the above.

 

Point to note: The language is again fuzzy and can be broadly interpretedas it already was during the farmer protests. And platforms are expected to proactively track and take down such content using artificial intelligence-based content toolswhich is hardly reassuring given how well tech algorithms have performed.

 

Ok, and Twitter is just saying ‘no’?

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • Roger Federer quits French Open
  • Farmer protests reignite
  • Meghan & Harry had a baby!
  • Olympics enters the NFT game
  • Here come the supersonic jets

 

Smart & Curious

  • The rise of the “ghar-wala” vegetarian
  • An engaging essay on the science of mangoes
  • Why powerful women talk up their lesser known husbands
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