Guidelines for Use of Social Media for Government Organisations

Guidelines for Use of Social Media for Government Organisations

 

Department of Electronics and Information Technology
Ministry of Communications & Information Technology
Government of India
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Table of Contents
Executive Summary ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
I. Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
II. Need for Social Media Guidelines ……………………………………………………………………………………… 5
III. Target Audience ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6
IV. Social Media ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6
4.1 What is Social Media ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
4.1.1. Social Media Characteristics ……………………………………………………………………………………. 6
4.2 Need for Using Social Media ……………………………………………………………………………………… 7
4.3 Types of Social Media ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
4.4 Core Values for Using Social Media ……………………………………………………………………………. 9
4.5 Challenges in Using Social Media ……………………………………………………………………………… 10
V. Social Media Framework & Guidelines for Government Organisations ………………………………… 10
5.1. Guidelines for Using Social Media by Government Organizations ………………………………… 11
5.1.1 Define Objectives: …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
5.1.2 Choosing Platforms: ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
5.1.3 Governance Structure: …………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
5.1.4 Communication Strategy: ………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
5.1.5 Creating Pilot: ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
5.1.6 Engagement Analysis …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
5.1.7 Institutionalise Social Media: ………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
VI. Conclusion …………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 24
Annexure-I – Social Media Types …………………………………………………………………………………………. 25
Annexure II: Use of Social Media by Government Agencies ……………………………………………………. 27
Annexure III: Relevant section of Information Technology Act 2000 ……………………………………….. 30
Annexure IV: Community Creation & Sustenance …………………………………………………………………. 37
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Executive Summary
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) including internet and mobile based
communications are increasingly becoming pervasive and integral to day-to-day functioning
of our lives- whether personal or official. ICTs offer an unprecedented opportunity of
connecting to each and every individual and design the communication structure
accordingly to each person. Such a structure can be defined and re-defined by both initiator
and receiver of communication. Such a medium of communication is referred to as Social
Media and it is transforming the way in which people connect with each other and the
manner in which information is shared and distributed.
While at a personal level, the uptake and usage of such media is gaining rapid popularity,
use and utility of such media for official purpose remain ambiguous. Many apprehensions
remain including, but not limited to issues related to authorisation to speak on behalf of
department/agency, technologies and platform to be used for communication, scope of
engagement, creating synergies between different channels of communication, compliance
with existing legislations etc.
In order to encourage and enable government agencies to make use of this dynamic
medium of interaction, a Framework and Guidelines for use of Social Media by government
agencies in India has been formulated. These guidelines will enable the various agencies to
create and implement their own strategy for the use of social media. The document will
help them to make an informed choice about the objective, platforms, resources, etc. to
meet the requirement of interaction with their varied stakeholders.
The guidelines provide an in depth review of types of social media, their characteristics and
challenges in their uses. In order to assist the departments to undertake such an
engagement, the document provides for a framework and detailed guidelines governing
each element of the framework. Briefly, the elements of the framework and associated
guidelines are given below:
The framework comprises of the following 6 elements:
• Objective: Why an agency needs to use social media
• Platform: Which platform/s to use for interaction
• Governance: What are rules of engagement
• Communication Strategy: How to interact
• Pilot: How to create and sustain a community
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• Institutionalisation: How to embed social media in organisation structure
Some of key caveats that the guidelines highlight and must be kept in mind include:
• All accounts must be created and operated in official capacity only
• As social media demands 24*7 interactions, some responsiveness criteria may be
defined and a dedicated team may be put in place to monitor and respond
• There should be congruence between responses on social media and traditional media
• Relevant provisions of IT Act 2000 and RTI Act must be adhered to.
Detailed description and explanations are given in the Guidelines section of the document.
Social Media is being used across the world by different government agencies. The
document also illustrates some examples from India as well from other countries to
demonstrate the purpose and use of such media. It is believed that the Framework and
Guidelines will be useful for departments and agencies in formulating their own strategies
and will help them in engaging in a more fruitful manner with their respective stakeholders.
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Guidelines for Use of Social Media by Government
I. Introduction
The advent of social media is transforming the way in which people connect with each other
and the manner in which information is shared and distributed. It is different from
traditional media such as print, radio and television in two significant ways – first, the
amount of content that can be generated by the users themselves far exceeds the content
generated by news/opinion makers and second, its “viral” ability for potential exponential
spread of information by word of mouth and interlinking of the various social media
platforms, thereby considerably reducing the control over spread of any such information.
These characteristics denote the paradigm shift from Web 1.0 technologies that enabled
simple information sharing and basic two-way transactions to Web 2.0 – where literally
everyone is/can be a user as well as generator of content. Social media is redefining the way
people communicate with one another.
In order to encourage and enable government agencies to make use of this dynamic
medium of interaction, a Framework and Guidelines for use of Social Media by government
agencies in India has been formulated. These guidelines will enable the various agencies to
create and implement their own strategy for the use of social media. The document will
help them to make an informed choice about the objective, platforms, resources, etc. to
meet the requirement of interaction with their varied stakeholders.
II. Need for Social Media Guidelines
Given its characteristics to potentially give “voice to all”, immediate outreach and 24*7
engagement, Social Media offers a unique opportunity to governments to engage with their
stakeholders especially citizens in real time to make policy making citizen centric. Many
governments across the world as well many government agencies in India are using various
social media platforms to reach out to citizens, businesses and experts to seek inputs into
policy making, get feedback on service delivery, create community based programmes etc.
However, many apprehensions remain including, but not limited to issues related to
authorisation to speak on behalf of department/agency, technologies and platform to be
used for communication, scope of engagement, creating synergies between different
channels of communication, compliance with existing legislations etc.
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It was therefore felt that Guidelines for use of Social Media were required which would
enable project owners/implementers to effectively use these platforms.
III. Target Audience
The Framework and Guidelines have been developed for all government agencies including
Public Sector Undertakings to help them conceptualise and evolve their Social Media
interactions and strategy.
IV. Social Media
4.1 What is Social Media
Social Media in recent times has become synonymous with Social Networking sites such as
FaceBook or MicroBlogging sites such as Twitter. However, very broadly social media can be
defined as any web or mobile based platform that enables an individual or agency to
communicate interactively and enables exchange of user generated content.
4.1.1. Social Media Characteristics
Critical characteristics of social media are
• Connectedness: This attribute showcases the media’s ability to connect and reconnect like-minded people or people interested in same topics and domains. Through this
media, 24*7 connectedness is possible through a variety of media and access devices
including PCs, Laptops, mobile phones etc. Individuals re-tweeting & following other
people’s comments and status and updating their own account at all hours are examples of
this attribute.
• Collaboration: The connections achieved on this media, enable people to collaborate
and create knowledge. Such collaborations can be either open or closed. Wikipedia is an
example of open collaboration which enabled creation of an open web based encyclopedia
through contribution from hundreds of thousands of people. GovLoop is an example of
closed collaboration wherein experts groups contribute on specific policy matters.
• Community: Connectedness and collaboration helps create and sustain
communities. These communities can create awareness about various issues and can be
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used for seeking inputs into policy making, building goodwill or even seeking feedback into
delivery of public services.
Pictorially, the characteristics have been depicted below to show the inter-linkages between
all characteristics and their mutual dependency.
Figure 1: Characteristics of Social Media
4.2 Need for Using Social Media
With the ever increasing diffusion of ICTs in all walks of lives, connectedness is increasingly
becoming a given part of our lives. This connectedness brings with it many opportunities
and also presents many challenges. From the perspective of governments, the following
represent some of the reasons for using social media:
• Enhanced Outreach: As the recent world events have demonstrated, social media
have emerged as a powerful platform for forming an opinion as well as generating mass
support. In India, FaceBook alone has over 40 million users each. Even a microblogging site
Twitter has about 16 million users. These sites offer an opportunity to reach out this
audience at a key stroke. Many of these facilitate access through mobile devices and with
nearly 900 million mobile users in India, it offers an unprecedented outreach.
• Real Time engagement: Social Media releases the shackles of time and place for
engagement. They can connect policy makers to stakeholders in real time. In recent Libyan
crisis, Ministry of External Affairs used social media platforms such as Twitter to assist in
locating and evacuating Indian Citizens from Libya.
• Individual Interaction: In tradition forms of media, interaction with individual user is
either not possible or is very limited. Social Media platform offers the ability to connect with
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each and every individual. Such an interaction also enables the marginalised to participate in
discussions and present their point of view, thereby improving the political position of
marginalized or vulnerable groups. It is specifically useful when seeking feedback on services
rendered.
• Managing Perceptions: One of the big challenges for government is to avoid
propagation of unverified facts and frivolous misleading rumours with respect to
government policies. Leveraging these platforms can help to counter such perceptions and
present the facts to enable informed opinion making.
4.3 Types of Social Media
Kaplan and Haenlein in 2010 classified social media into six different types: collaborative
projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game
worlds, and virtual social worlds. A brief description of some of the most common types of
social media is given below:
Platform Type Description
Social
Networking
Social Networking is an online service that enables its users to create
virtual networks with likeminded people akin to social networks in real
life. It often offers the facilities such as chat, instant messaging, photo
sharing, updates, etc. Currently, social networking sites are the most
prominent version of social media. FaceBook with 800 million users is one
of the most well known social networking site.
Blogs Blogs are descriptive content pages created and maintained by individual
users and may contain text, photos and links to other web sites. The main
interactive feature of Blogs is the ability of readers to leave comments and
the comment trail can be followed.
MicroBlogs MicroBlogs are similar to Blogs with a typical restriction of 140 characters
or less, which allows users to write and share content. Twitter is the most
well known microblogging site.
Vlogs and
Video Sharing
sites
VideoBlogs or Vlogs are blogging sites that mainly use video as the main
form of content supported by text. YouTube is the largest video sharing
site.
Wikis A Wiki is a collaborative website that allows multiple users to create and
update pages on particular or interlinked subjects. While single page is
referred to as “wiki page” the entire related content on that topic is called
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a “Wiki”. Wikipedia is the pioneering site of this type of platform.
Table 1: Types of Social Media
A more detailed description of the different types of social media, their characteristics is
given in Annexure I
4.4 Core Values for Using Social Media
Unlike other traditional media, social media is more interactive, enables one-to-one
conversation and demands immediacy in response. Also, on such platforms the perception
of official and personal roles and boundaries is often blurred. Therefore, while using social
media for official purposes, the following may be kept in mind to smoothen interaction:
• Identity: Always identify clearly who you are, what is your role in the department
and publish in the first person. Disclaimer may be used when appropriate
• Authority: Do not comment and respond unless authorized to do so especially in the
matters that are sub-judice, draft legislations or relating to other individuals
• Relevance: Comment on issues relevant to your area and make relevant and
pertinent comments. This will make conversation productive and help take it to its logical
conclusion
• Professionalism: Be Polite, Be Discrete and Be Respectful to all and do not make
personal comments for or against any individuals or agencies. Also, professional discussions
should not be politicized
• Openness: Be open to comments – whether positive or negative. It is NOT necessary
to respond to each and every comment
• Compliance: Be compliant to relevant rules and regulations. Do not infringe upon
IPR, copyright of others
• Privacy: Do not reveal personal information about other individuals as well as do not
publish your own private and personal details unless you wish for them to be made public to
be used by others
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4.5 Challenges in Using Social Media

a) Why to use social media: Departments sometimes find it difficult to define the need
or objective to use social media. Is it for providing information, seeking feedback, generic
interaction, etc. Due to this lack of clarity, departments often either choose not to use social
media or attempt to be present on all platforms at once.
b) Which Platforms to use: Given the plethora of platforms and even types of social
media, it is very difficult to choose the type and no. of platform on which to engage and how
to create inter-linkages between these platforms.
c) Who will engage: Most departments have limited capacity to engage with traditional
media itself and since social media demands a deeper and constant interaction, availability
of such resources is even more limited. A closely associated question is that of authority i.e.
who is authorised to respond on behalf of the department, whether such a response will be
made in personal or official capacity and from personal or official account etc.
d) How to engage: Use of social media is an ongoing process and requires long term
commitment. Many have questions around rules of engagement – how to create and
manage an account, what should be response time, what are the legal implications etc.
In order to help departments and government agencies to meet these challenges,
Guidelines for use of Social Media have been drafted. In the following section, various
elements of the Framework and the Guidelines to use the different elements of Framework
have been detailed.
V. Social Media Framework & Guidelines for Government
Organisations
The Social Media Framework for the Government of India has been created to enable
government agencies to use these platforms more effectively and reach out to their
stakeholders and understand their concerns and hear their voices. The Framework
comprises of the following 6 elements:
• Objective: Why an agency needs to use social media
• Platform: Which platform/s to use for interaction
• Governance: What are rules of engagement
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• Communication Strategy: How to interact
• Pilot: How to create and sustain a community
• Engagement Analysis: Who is talking about what, where and what are the main
points of conversations
• Institutionalisation: How to embed social media in organisation structure
Pictorially the framework can be represented as given below:
Figure 2: Social Media Framework
(Adapted from http://www.rossdawsonblog.com/SocialMediaStrategyFrameworkv1.pdf)
The next section elaborates on each element and provides guidelines on important aspects
and caveats of each element. The guidelines also use examples from India and across the
world to illustrate each element.
5.1. Guidelines for Using Social Media by Government Organizations
This section provides the users in government organizations, a set of guiding principles that
may be used while making use of Social Media. The section will illustrate through
appropriate examples, some of the critical aspects of each element.
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5.1.1 Define Objectives:
The objective for the use of social media is not just to disseminate information but also to
undertake public engagement for a meaningful public participation for formulation of public
policy. Government organisations are exploring the use of social media for public
engagements for disseminating information, policy making, recruitment, generating
awareness, education etc. about public services. Therefore, Social Media may be used for:
• Seeking feedback from citizens
• Re-pronouncement of Public Policy
• Issue based as well as Generic interaction
• Brand Building or Public Relations
• Generating Awareness and education on National Action Plans and implementation
strategies
In the Indian context, care must be taken so that people can communicate in their own
language, and due cognizance of the views expressed in local languages is taken.
5.1.2 Choosing Platforms:
Having defined the objectives, the next step is to identify platforms and phases in which such
an engagement shall be undertaken at these platforms. While social networks currently
seem to be the face of social media, they are not the only platform. Some of the other forms
of social media include, Social bookmarking site – stumble upon; transaction based
platforms – Amazon & eBay; self publishing media – You Tube, Picasa; Business management
etc. Since the choices are many, it is essential to identify one or two key platforms from
which the department may begin interaction. Based on objective and response, the basket
of platforms may be enhanced.
Government departments and agencies can engage social media in any of the following
manner:
• By making use of any of the existing external platforms, or
• By creating their own communication platforms
• The choice of the platform – whether owned or externally leveraged should be made
based on the following factors:
• Duration of engagement – whether the engagement sought is to be an ongoing
activity or created for a specific time-bound purpose
• Type of Consultation – whether the consultation is open to public or confined to a
particular group of stakeholders e.g. experts
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• Scope of Engagement – whether the consultation requires daily, weekly, bi-weekly or
even hourly interaction
• Existing Laws – whether existing laws permit use of such platforms and the
requirement under such laws regarding data protection, security, privacy, archiving
etc.
5.1.3 Governance Structure:
Since use of social media is a 24*7 engagement, the extant rules and regulations of media
interaction do not fully apply to them.
Two most important aspects of social media are its:
• viral characteristic – news spreads exponentially; and
• demand for instant gratification – queries, responses and counter-responses are
posted instantaneously.
However, since the official pages of departments must reflect the official position, some
measure of control must be included in the flexible design of communication.
Just as rules and regulations exist for interaction with traditional media, similar rules must
be created for engaging with social media.
Some of the key aspects of such a governance structure include:
5.1.3.1 . Account Governance
Account Creation: A social media account establishes an organisation’s online identity.
Wherever possible, the same name for the different social networking accounts may be
adopted to ensure ease of search on the internet. Another important facet of online identity
is the need for it to be rendered effectively in either long form e.g. website address or in 15
characters or less (this is the Twitter maximum).
Login and passwords: Each new account requires a URL, user name and/or email address
and a password. A proper record of login ids and password must be maintained. This is
critical as multiple people may be authorised to post on behalf of the department.
Account Status: It is important to define whether the engagement may be undertaken
through official accounts only or the officials may be permitted to use personal accounts
also for posting official responses. It determines who says what on behalf of your
organisation and in what form it is published. It also outlines how each piece of published
information is presented where it is published. The most important aspect is whether the
responses are in Official or Personal Capacity.
5.1.3.2. Response and Responsiveness:
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Responsiveness: This indicates the how often would the pages/information be updated, in
what manner would the responses be posted, what would be the turnaround time of
responses etc. The major attraction of social media is the spontaneity and immediacy of
response and feedback and those visiting the site would expect the some kind of response
within a pre-defined time limit.
As far as possible, it is important to state upfront the scope of response – given/not given,
type of response – official/unofficial, response time – 1 day/1 week etc. so that expectations
are set correctly. Some of the ways to ensure timely response is Email integration i.e. email
writing, list management, list building, proper lead direction so the right internal person
takes actions on leads in a timely fashion and Daily management/maintenance of social
media platform messages, customer contacts, etc.
Response: While creating a policy for responses, it may be noted that –
• Not all posts/comments need to be responded to immediately and individually. Also,
wherever a response is required all posts should be kept short and to the point.
• While employees are free to post response in their personal capacity, it is mandatory
that while they are doing so, they must clearly identify themselves, confidential information
must not be divulged and should not be seen to represent “official view” unless authorised
to do so.
• Another important aspect that needs to be addressed is the Escalation Mechanism.
 There has to be a defined hierarchy not only of responses but also of
queries. For example, the comments and queries may be classified as
routine – for which a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) and Fixed
Response Format (FRF) may be applied.
 The next level may be queries/comments related to
projects/programme, for which no separate official response may be
needed because all relevant information may be available in the
public domain and the query may be responded accordingly.
 The next level of query/comment may be more specific where an
“official” response may be needed. Such a categorization will help
organizations in streamlining their responses.
 Finally, there should be congruence between responses posted on
social media and those in traditional media.
5.1.3.3. Resource Governance
Allocation of Resources: Since using social media is a resource intensive exercise, it is
important to ensure that resources and their responsibilities are clearly marked out very
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early. Many organisations have a dedicated team including outsourced resources to manage
their engagement while others primarily uses internal resources. More often than not, it is
advisable to create a dedicated team. One of the key issues that impacts the resource
requirement is whether the conversation is moderated or un-moderated. In case of
moderated conversation, dedicated resource/s is critical. One of the key resources is an
internal champion within the system who can lead the strategy within the department. It is
important to note that since the engagement in social media requires different skill sets, the
champion and other resources identified would require orientation & training specifically
for the tasks assigned to them and keep abreast of the fast paced developments in this
media
Roles & Responsibilities: The roles and responsibilities of the team responsible for creating,
managing and responding on social media platforms must be clearly defined.
• In Indian context, they may also need to be aligned to roles and responsibilities
defined for responding to RTIs.
• For most interactions, flexibility may be given to the staff to respond to regular
queries or comments.
• Escalation mechanism defined in the governance structure must clearly define
accountability at all levels.
• The role definition must not be limited just to responses, but also include
responsibility for matters related maintenance of login ids and passwords, issues related to
data security, archives, privacy, etc. For example, while the existing web content team may
be assigned the responsibility for responding to usual queries; special technical expertise
may be required to ensure appropriate levels of security.
Accountability: Clearance systems that distinguish between situations when an official
position is required, and when open conversation is appropriate. This has to have at its
heart a redefinition of accountability. The officials designated for engagement with citizen
using the social media should be covered under a well defined immunity provision in
consonance with the RTI Act and the IT Act and the IT Amendment Act 2008.
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5.1.3.4. Content Governance:
Content Creation & Social media profiles overlap, therefore sharing consistent content on
all social media platforms should form the bedrock of content policy. While the social media
tools allow everyone to become a creator, for the official account, content will have to be
specified and tailored to the site on which it is being published.
Accessibility: In order to enable wider participation, content creation and availability should
be in Indian languages and must not be limited to text alone. The content should follow the
Government of India Guidelines for Website and adequately address challenges related to
accessibility in Indian Languages as well as accessibility of content for differently abled.
Moderation: A moderation policy should also be published if the platform permits others to
add their own content; this informs people what they can post whilst protecting others who
may visit your platform. The moderation policy should include matter related to copyright,
rights to addition and deletion etc.
Records Management: When any information is shared or guidance given online, it is
necessary to ensure that all relevant records are captured, trail is generated and records are
managed appropriately. It is important that the rules regarding record keeping are states
upfront so that those seeking historical data are aware of statutes and limitations. Some of
the important aspects that may be kept in mind while defining record management
guidelines are as under:
• The requirements for existing legislations e.g. RTI etc. need to be kept in mind and
are paramount in influencing decisions regarding record keeping
• Ordinarily, if online consultations do not impact decision making, lead to or influence
policy making (e.g. seeking information about nodal officers, or any other public document,
or responding to generic comments such as governance should be improved etc.) the
agencies may decide that no record of such interactions will be maintained.
• However, if consultations are necessarily being undertaken on specific policy or
governance issues or that may influence decision making (e.g. inputs into Plan Document,
consultation on policy frameworks etc.) then all necessary records need to be maintained. If
the agency is using a social media site that does not facilitate record keeping, then there are
various other options that may be explored. Some of the options are given below and may
be exercised based on need and resources available:
o Records may be created agency’s internal platform and records be maintained with
appropriate tags e.g. creator/sender, dates, posting site etc.
o Screenshots may be captured and stored in soft or hard (copy) format and filed at
appropriate place.
o A summary may be created of the information/consultation and filed.
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Since most of the social media platforms are based outside India and are not governed by
Indian Laws, or managed and controlled by Indian regulations, specific policies may be
drafted related to information security and archiving. If required the agencies may engage
with the Social Media Service Providers to work out Service Level Agreements for
• Complaint and response mechanism between the agency and the Service Provider
• Content Storage
• Shared access of the content
• Archival mechanisms
5.1.3.5. Legal Provisions: In India, the legal implications must be viewed in
accordance with the law of land e.g. RTI Act, IT ACT 2000 & IT Amendment Act 2008 etc as
also rules and regulations made thereunder. These policies must be circulated internally to
ensure uniformity of response. Some of the key sections and their implications that must be
kept in mind are as under:
5.1.3.5.1. When Government department provides such social media facilities on
its network, receives, stores or transmits any particular electronic
record on behalf of another person or provides any service with respect
to that record, they become intermediary under Section 2(1)(w) of the
amended Information Technology Act, 2000.
Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000 provides
the broad principle that intermediaries like Government departments
providing social media facilities are generally not liable for third party
data information or communication link made available by them.
However this exemption from liability can only be applicable if the said
Government department complies with various conditions of law as
prescribed under Section 79 of the amended Information Technology
Act, 2000. The said conditions which need to mandatorily complied with
the Government department to claim exemption for any third party
data information or communication link made available or hosted by
them in connection with social media facilities made available by the
said department on their network are as follows:
• The function of the Government department is limited to providing
access to a communication system over which information made
available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored; or hosted
• The Government department does not-
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(i) initiate the transmission,
(ii) select the receiver of the transmission, and
(iii) select or modify the information contained in the transmission
• The Government department observes due diligence while
discharging its duties under this Act and also observes such other
guidelines as the Central Government may prescribe in this behalf.
• That the Government department as intermediary must not conspire
or abet or aide or induce, whether by threats or promise or otherwise in
the commission of the unlawful act.
• That the Government department must immediately after receiving
actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate Government
or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing
in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the Government
department is being used to commit the unlawful act, must
expeditiously remove or disable access to that material on that
resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner.
• The Government department must also comply with all applicable
rules, regulations and notifications in regard to their activity of
providing social media facilities on its network.
• That the Government department complies with the Information
Technology (reasonable security practices and procedures & sensitive
personal data or information) Rules, 2011.
• That the Government department also complies with the Information
Technology (Intermediary guidelines) Rules, 2011.
• That the Government department also implement reasonable security
practices and procedures as envisaged under Section 43A of the
amended Information Technology Act, 2000.
5.1.3.6. Data & Information Security Governance:
The Government’s communication to citizens via social media should follow the same data
retention policy as its communication through other electronic and non-electronic channels.
Data portability compliance varies from one social media platform to another. Hence,
privileged access may be mandated by the Government along the same lines “take down
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notices” and “information requests” currently being sent to social media and other
platforms for intellectual property rights infringement and other offences.
Provisions related to Personal Information & Security: Under the Information Technology
Act 2000, the Central Government has enacted various rules and regulations which impact
social media. Some of the most important in this regard are as follows:
i. The Information Technology (reasonable security practices and procedures &
sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 define provisions for
personal information & security and what constitutes sensitive personal data.
Sensitive personal data or information of a person means such personal
informaLon which consists of informaLon relaLng to;―
a. password;
b. financial information such as Bank account or credit card or debit card or
other payment instrument details;
c. physical, physiological and mental health condition;
d. sexual orientation;
e. medical records and history;
f. Biometric information;
g. any detail relating to the above clauses as provided to body corporate for
providing service; and
h. any of the information received under above clauses by body corporate for
processing, stored or processed under lawful contract or otherwise:
Provided that, any information that is freely available or accessible in public
domain or furnished under the Right to Information Act, 2005 or any other law
for the time being in force shall not be regarded as sensitive personal data or
information for the purposes of these rules.
ii. For the purposes of protecting such sensitive personal data, the Government
has mandated that any legal entity who is processing, dealing or handling
sensitive personal data must implement reasonable security practices and
procedures.
iii. The Government further stipulate that ISO 27001 is one acceptable standard
of reasonable security practices and procedures. Thus, all Government
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departments which are providing social media facilities must comply with ISO
27001.
iv. Further under the Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines) Rules,
2011, since the said Government department who is provide social media
facilities is an intermediary, it has to comply with the Information Technology
(Intermediary guidelines) Rules, 2011. Under Rule 3(4) of the said rules, the
Government department shall act within thirty six hours on receiving the
written complaint form an affected person and where applicable, work with
user or owner of such information to disable such information that is in
contravention of sub-rule (2).
v. Further the Government department shall preserve such information and
associated records for at least ninety days for investigation purposes.
vi. In case, if the Government department does not comply with any of the above
requirements of law, then the said Government department as also the
concerned head of the department who is responsible for the social media
facilities and the concerned IT head would be liable for civil and criminal
consequences.
vii. The civil consequences could consist of being sued for damages by way of
compensation upto 5 crore Rupees under summary proceedings before the
adjudicatory authorities specially constituted under the Information
Technology Act, 2000. Further if person wants, they can sue the said
Government department for damages beyond 5 crore Rupees in a court of
competent jurisdiction.
viii.In case the concerned Government department does not comply with all the
aforesaid laws, the said Government department as also the person heading
the department and the concerned IT head would also be liable for criminal
liability which could range from imprisonment of 3 years to life imprisonment
and fine which could range from 1 lakh to 10 lakh Rupees.
Rules for Privacy and data collection: While social networking enables greater
transparency, it is equally important to ensure the protection of people from exposure to
inappropriate or offensive material.
• Since profiles on social network are linked more often to individuals and not
organisations, for the organisation’s site/page, a separate work profile may be created
which can then be linked to a general email address that is accessible to anyone in the team,
enabling them to administer the social networks without compromising on individual
privacy.
• It is critical that social media policy for the Government is compliant with existing
law governing data protection and privacy. Each department of the Government may be
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recommended to publish their own set of additional protections to safeguard privacy of
citizens while maintaining highest levels of transparency of Government bodies.
• If the departments/agencies are collecting personal information on a social media
platform, the same must be stated upfront. For example, while seeking inputs on a
particular policy, it is may not be necessary to save the email id of each and every
respondent and just saving the responses may suffice.
Identity Management: Identity management for the purposes of this document refers to
management of identities of individual/s who seek to engage with government agencies on
social media platforms. Such management relates specifically to registration mechanisms,
delineation of personal identity from official identity of government officials and need to
engage in a non-anonymous manner in such consultations. Towards this end, the
departments may like to use following or any other suitable mechanism to achieve the
above:
• Provide for activation of registration for engagement by seeking confirmation of
email addresses
• Send acknowledgement/responses to queries to registered email addresses
• Providing official email ids and accounts to each and every government official
authorised to engage on behalf of the department and permit use of only official
accounts for engagement
However, while applying the above, The Information Technology (reasonable security
practices and procedures & sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 stated in the
preceding paragraphs above must be complied with.
The relevant sections of the Information Technology Act 2000 are placed in Annexure III
for ready reference. In addition, the users may refer to any other relevant legislations,
provisions and rules notified.
5.1.4 Communication Strategy:
Some of key aspects of communication strategy include – Integration of Social Media into
routine, Connection with existing networks, Sharing content across sites and Publicising use
of social networking through traditional media.
• Social media can only be used by the Government to communicate existing
Government information and propagate official policy to the public.
• While the social media tools allow everyone to become a creator, for the official
account, content will have to be specified and tailored to the site on which it is being
published.
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• Great care must be taken to avoid propagation of unverified facts and frivolous
misleading rumours which tend to circulate often through miscreants on social media
platforms.
• It must be reiterated here that social media should only be one of the components
of the overall citizen engagement strategy and government departments must desist from
using only social media to communicate with their stakeholders.
• Initially, the departments may just aim to post information regularly. For example, if
it is a Face Book Page, postings may be done at least a couple of times a week and on
Twitter slightly more frequently.
• Ideally, none of the sites should be left more than a week or two without new
content.
5.1.5 Creating Pilot:
Since social media are relatively new forms of communication, it is always better to test
efficiency and efficacy of such an initiative with a pilot project. Some of principles of
creating such a pilot are given below:
 Focussed Objective setting: Initiate interaction for a limited objective or limited to
one topic
 Begin Small: It is always better to start small and it is advisable to begin with one or
two platforms.
 Multiplicity of access: The chosen platform should typically permit inputs from or
linkages through multiple access devices. This will ensure wider participation.
 Content Management: It is not enough just register presence on a variety of
platforms. It is essential that content provided is topical and up to date.
 Community Creation: On any social media platform, creation of a community is
essential to generate buzz and sustain interaction.
A detailed guideline on creation and sustenance of community building is placed at
Annexure IV
5.1.6 Engagement Analysis
Social media monitoring must be an integral part of any social media strategy. Social media
data is different from other data or information because organisations have no control over
its creation or dissemination on the Web and in order to understand and analyse the data a
structure has to be imposed externally on it. Today a multitude of tools offer solutions for
measuring conversation, sentiment, influences and other social media attributes. They help
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in discovering conversations about project and organisations and can be used to proactively
engage with stakeholders. The Social Network Analysis (SNA) Software facilitates both
quantitative as well as qualitative analysis by mining the raw data and combining it with
individual and socio matrix. While some SNA software also have the features that enable
them to import and/or store databases from social network, others perform preferential
analysis to predict individual level or network outcome. Many social media monitoring
platforms offer demographic information such as age and location. This information can be
used to expand the reach of your platform by creating a geo-targeted campaign focused on
areas that generate the most traffic to your social media site.
Some considerations for Data Analysis include:
• Data Definition: Selection of platforms, pages and/or organizations
• Depth and detail of analysis on each page: Areas or sections of the page to analyze
(Wall, Discussion board, Pictures, etc.)
• Time-frame: Last one month etc.
• Criteria for determining the importance of the pages: notability, popularity,
intentions/goals of pages, etc.
Some of challenges encountered in analysis may be related to
• Overlapping functions of posts: many comments and responses serve multiple
purposes
• Difficulties in disentangling “push” messages from “pull” messages
• Inexhaustible range of topics that extend beyond your area of interest
• Unpredictable patterns of conversation and user exchange
These challenges may be mitigated by taking the following steps:
• Limit Scope of Analysis: Making a small start and defining Top 5 or 10 metrics may
help organise the Data e.g. No. of mentions, No. of comments on specific posts, No.
of retweets, No. of likes or shares etc.
• Creation of Dashboard: There are many free tools available that can help create a
dashboard view of the data which can be pulled in through RSS feeds. This will help
keep tab on latest happenings
• Connect with responders: It is a good idea to collate information/link to profiles
about people who respond to queries or topics of your organisations interest, also
observe their preference of response – individual mail, wall posting etc. Over a
period of time this will help generate a broad profile of people who respond to your
efforts
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• Follow the followers/Leaders: Follow your followers and leaders on other
networks/platforms to hear what is being talked about. This would help in spotting
the trends in discussion.
5.1.7 Institutionalise Social Media:
The final step in ensuring that the pilot is scaled and integrated is to link it to existing
administrative and communication structure. An indicative list includes:
• rules may be established that all policy announcements will be undertaken
simultaneously on traditional as well as social media;
• all important occasions as far as possible may be broadcasted using social media;
• all documents seeking public opinion must be posted on social media sites;
• all updates from the website would automatically be updated on social media sites
and;
• all traditional communications will publicise the social media presence.
VI. Conclusion
The Framework and Guidelines in this document have been formulated with a view to help
government ministries, departments and agencies to make use of social media platforms to
engage more meaningfully with their various stakeholders.
Social media’s characteristics of connectedness, collaboration and community have the
potential of ensuring broad based consultation, and can help agencies reduce the duration
of consultation process and receive immediate feedback on services delivered.
In order to effectively utilise this media, the agencies must define very clearly the objective
of such an engagement, select platforms that will be used for engagement, rules of
engagement, communication strategy for ensuring broad basing such an engagement, and
finally if found effective and efficient institutionalise such social media with mainstream
engagement process.
Both in India as well as across the world, various government departments and agencies at
federal, state and local government level are using this media. However, this is a dynamic
and evolving area and continuous engagement and nimbleness of response to such an
evolving scenario will determine the success of such efforts.
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Annexure-I – Social Media Types
Kaplan and Haenlein in 2010 classified social media into six different types: collaborative
projects, blogs and microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual game
worlds, and virtual social worlds. A brief description of various types of platforms is given
below to help the agencies understand their main characteristics and also lists some of the
currently popular sites in each of the categories as well as examples of use of such platform
by Indian or other governments across the world.
• Social Networking: Currently, social networking sites are the most prominent
platform of social media. It is an online service that enables its users to create virtual
networks with like minded people akin to social networks in real life. It often offers the
facilities such as chat, instant messaging, photo sharing, updates, etc. FaceBook with over
800 million users is one of the most well known social networking site. A few Indian
government departments and agencies are using FaceBook including, Prime Minister’s
Office, Planning Commission, Ministry of External Affairs and a few Municipal Corporations
and Police Departments, etc.
• Blogs: Blogs are descriptive content created and maintained by individual users and
may contain text, photos and links to other web sites. The main interactive feature of Blogs
is the ability of readers to leave comments and the comment trail can be followed. A
community of Blogs is referred to as Blogosphere and can be used very effectively to gauge
public opinion. While many websites offer free space for blogging, this activity can also be
undertaken on the existing government websites. Many government officials blog in their
personal capacity on various issues. The Digital Engagement Blog of the UK government is
an initiative to use the Blog format to for consultation on as well for pronouncement related
to existing and proposed policies.
• MicroBlogs: MicroBlogs are similar to Blogs with a typical restriction of 140
characters or less, which allows users to write and share content. It can be done in the form
of text message, instant message or even email. Twitter is a microblogging site that enables
its users to send and read text based messages or “tweets” of upto 140 character length.
These Tweets are posted on the user’s account and the site allows others to “Follow” the
user. While Tweets are public by default, they can also be restricted to just the followers.
Tweets can be generated via web, smartphone or even through SMS on some mobile
phones. Due to limitation of characters, url shortening and content hosting services are
often used accommodate posts that are normally longer. Twitter collects personally
identifiable information of users and shares it with third party users. Twitter is estimated to
have over 200 million users. Twitter is useful for short and crisp messaging and being used
by Ministry of External Affairs, Chief Ministers of many states, Members of Parliament and
Prime Minister’s Office
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• Vlogs and Video Sharing sites: VideoBlogs or Vlogs are blogging sites that mainly use
video as the main form of content supported by text. Such sites especially enable those who
may have limited knowledge of English to also share their experiences over internet. Vlogs
are an important category of content over YouTube – the largest video sharing site.
YouTube is a video Live Casting and video sharing site where users can view, upload and
share videos and even leave comments about videos. However, for upload and sharing
registration is required. YouTube is a subsidiary of Google Inc. Since a picture/or in this case
a video speaks a thousand words, it is an excellent platform for sharing progress about
projects. Many government departments including DeitY and Prime Minister’s Office have
uploaded their promotional video content on YouTube.
• Wikis: A Wiki is a collaborative website that allows multiple users to create and
update pages on particular or interlinked subjects. While single page is referred to as “wiki
page” the entire related content on that topic is called a “Wiki” These multiple pages are
linked through hyperlinks and allow users to interact in a complex and non-linear manner.
Many wiki communities are “private” and are used for deliberating upon internal policies
and for knowledge sharing. Currently, based on the information available, no official wiki on
any Indian government policy exists. Wikis are a good option for undertaking “close” web
based interactions. Normally the content on wikis are created as part of “Creative
Commons” and are more inclined towards copy left rather than copyright.
Some of the other popular social media sites include
• SlideShare – Similar to YouTube, here only presentations in PDF, PPT, KeyNote or
Open Office format can be uploaded
• Orkut and LinkedIn – These are two other popular social networking site. While the
former is an open site, the latter is primarily a business networking site
• Picasa and Flickr – These are photo sharing sites
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Annexure II: Use of Social Media by Government Agencies
Social media is used by several government organisations to engage with various
stakeholders for the purposes of disseminating information, seeking inputs into policy
making, recruitment, providing access to services, educating stakeholders, etc. In this
section, a brief description of use of social media by different governments across the world
and some examples from India has been presented to demonstrate the varied use of social
media by government agencies.
International Experiences
Across the world, various government agencies at Federal, state and local government level
are using the various social media platforms to interact with their stakeholders. While many
local government agencies including Mayor’s offices of many cities in United States use
social media for community building and even recruitment, most state and federal agencies
use social media for either seeking expert opinion or creating/influencing public opinion.
Many agencies at federal level are also using this platform to gauge public reactions on
upcoming/proposed policy measures. Given below are a few examples from across the
world.
United States of America
Many federal and state government agencies are actively engaging with their stakeholders
using social media. Some examples of use of social media are
• The White House Facebook Page and The White House Twitter profile –
WhiteHouse.gov
• State Department Facebook Page
• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Facebook Page
• US Army Facebook Page
In addition to established platforms created by private organisations, US government has
also created its own platforms. A social network Web site called GovLoop.com was created
within the US Department of Homeland Security to share experiences and best practices.
Australia
The Australian Public Service Commission in 2008 announced a set of interim protocols to
agencies that are using or planning to use online media, including blogs, as a means of
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communication with clients and stakeholders and the Federal Government has established
a Government 2.0 Taskforce. The Taskforce has submitted its report and its work related to
increasing the openness of government and encouraging online engagement . It will be able
to fund initiatives and incentives which may achieve or demonstrate how to accomplish
government 2.0 objectives (Source: http://gov2.net.au/about/index.html last visited on
August 29, 2011) The TaskForce has released a set of guidelines and Toolkit to provide
guidance to Australian government agencies to leverage Web 2.0 tools
(http://gov2.net.au/projects/project-8/comment-page-1/index.html#comment-14888 last
visited on April 27, 2012). In addition, The Australian Government Information Management Office
(AGIMO), amongst other information, collates and publishes list of Australian government use of social media
(http://agimo.govspace.gov.au/page/gov2register/ last visited on April 27, 2012)
New Zealand
The New Zealand Government has been using Social Media to consult on varied topics
including consultation on how and why online channels are used to achieve better service
experience and increased strategic agility (http://www.ict.govt.nz/programme/rethink-online
last visited on April 27, 2012) The New Zealand government had even piloted an online discussion
forum with supporting data during 2010 to test an approach of supplying publicly available
data online to experts and the public for improved public consultation
(http://www.goodpracticeparticipate.govt.nz/techniques/lessons-learnt-from-open-dataengagement-pilot.html last viewed on April 27, 2012) It also runs a dedicated website as a learning
tool to consolidate learning and best practices from all such initiatives
(http://www.goodpracticeparticipate.govt.nz/techniques/online-participation.html last visited on
April 27, 2012) In November 2011, the ICT strategy group of the government approved social media
guidance which includes High Level Guidance and Hands-on Toolbox
(http://webstandards.govt.nz/guides/strategy-and-operations/social-media/ last viewed on April 27,
2012)
United Kingdom
The Government Digital Service has been created within Cabinet Office of the United
Kingdom government to transform government digital services. It works on multiple
projects to ensure provisioning of projects and services that would improve digital
experience of citizens and businesses. Some of their projects include – Directgov, Digital
Engagement Blog, Assisted Digital etc. (http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/projects/ last
viewed on April 27, 2012)
India
Social Media is being used by Indian government agencies in a limited way. However,
recently many agencies have taken steps to engage with their service seekers on social
media. Some of the examples from India are given below:
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Prime Minister’s Office
The Prime Minister’s office launched its social media initiatives from January 2012. The PMO
currently uses Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/pmoindia Last visited on April 27, 2012), FaceBook
(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Indian-Prime-Ministers-Office/107934225905981 last visited on
April 27, 2012) and YouTube
(http://www.youtube.com/user/PMOfficeIndia?ob=0&feature=results_main last visited on April 27,
2012) as its platforms for engagement
Police
• The Delhi Traffic Police has joined Facebook and Twitter to ease handling of traffic
related issues (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Delhi-Traffic-Police/117817371573308).
• The Indore Police Department (http://www.indorepolice.org ) has been using a blog,
Twitter, online and mobile complaint forms, a Google map of police stations and a digital
crime mapper to track criminal activities in the region.
• The Maharashtra Police Department (http://mahapolice.gov.in/ ) launched an SMSbased complaint tracking system (CTS), called “Turant Chovis”, which promised to quickly
redress citizen complaints by sending a first response within 24 hours and resolving the
issue within 30 days.
Ministry of External Affairs
The Public Diplomacy (PD) division of the Ministry of External Affairs saw merit in leveraging
social media to connect with the masses. It made its debut on Twitter with the user id
“Indian diplomacy”. It was used very successfully in the recent crisis in Libya.
(http://twitter.com/#!/Indiandiplomacy) Post Office
World’s largest postal network has started using Twitter to intercat with its users and public.
The site is used even for status tracking and grievance redressal
(http://twitter.com/#!/PostOfficeIndia last viewed on April 27, 2012)
Municipal Corporation
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi launched a Facebook page last year and created a forum
for better interaction with citizens (http://www.facebook.com/pages/MunicipalCorporation-of-Delhi/106030789427235 ).
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Annexure III: Relevant section of Information Technology Act 2000
The Government departments need to realize that the moment they provide social media
platforms/websites/portals/facilities on their existing websites, portals and platforms, they
become a network service provider as they provide the services of providing such social
media facilities on the network. As such, the relevant Government department becomes
network service provider and hence intermediary under the Information Technology Act,
2000. Further when the said Government department provides such social media facilities
on its network, it receives, stores or transmits any particular electronic record on behalf of
another person or provides any service with respect to that record. As such they become
intermediary under Section 2(1)(w) of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000.
The moment the Government department becomes an intermediary, it is governed by its
liability under Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000.
Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000 provides the broad principle
that intermediaries like Government departments providing social media facilities are
generally not liable for third party data information or communication link made available
by them. However this exemption from liability can only be applicable if the said
Government department complies with various conditions of law as prescribed under
Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000.
The said conditions which need to mandatorily complied with the Government department
to claim exemption for any third party data information or communication link made
available or hosted by them in connection with social media facilities made available by the
said department on their network are as follows:
1) The function of the Government department is limited to providing access to a
communication system over which information made available by third parties is
transmitted or temporarily stored; or hosted
2) The Government department does not-
(i) initiate the transmission,
(ii) select the receiver of the transmission, and
(iii) select or modify the information contained in the transmission
3) The Government department observes due diligence while discharging its duties
under this Act and also observes such other guidelines as the Central Government
may prescribe in this behalf.
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4) That the Government department as intermediary must not conspire or abet or
aide or induce, whether by threats or promise or otherwise in the commission of
the unlawful act.
5) That the Government department must immediately after receiving actual
knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate Government or its agency
that any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a
computer resource controlled by the Government department is being used to
commit the unlawful act, must expeditiously remove or disable access to that
material on that resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner.
6) The Government department must also comply with all applicable rules,
regulations and notifications in regard to their activity of providing social media
facilities on its network.
7) That the Government department complies with the Information Technology
(reasonable security practices and procedures & sensitive personal data or
information) Rules, 2011.
8) That the Government department also complies with the Information Technology
(Intermediary guidelines) Rules, 2011.
9) That the Government department also implement reasonable security practices
and procedures as envisaged under Section 43A of the amended Information
Technology Act, 2000.
Under the Information Technology Act 2000, the Central Government has enacted various
rules and regulations which impact social media. Some of the most important in this regard
are as follows:
ix. The Information Technology (reasonable security practices and procedures &
sensitive personal data or information) Rules, 2011 – These rules define for the first
time in independent India what constitutes sensitive personal data. Sensitive
personal data or information of a person means such personal information which
consists of informaLon relaLng to;―
(i) password;
(ii) financial information such as Bank account or credit card or debit card or
other payment instrument details;
(iii) physical, physiological and mental health condition;
(iv) sexual orientation;
(v) medical records and history;
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(vi) Biometric information;
(vii) any detail relating to the above clauses as provided to body corporate for
providing service; and
(viii) any of the information received under above clauses by body corporate for
processing, stored or processed under lawful contract or otherwise:
Provided that, any information that is freely available or accessible in public domain
or furnished under the Right to Information Act, 2005 or any other law for the time
being in force shall not be regarded as sensitive personal data or information for the
purposes of these rules.
x. For the purposes of protecting such sensitive personal data, the Government has
mandated that any legal entity who is processing, dealing or handling sensitive
personal data must implement reasonable security practices and procedures.
xi. The Government further stipulate that ISO 27001 is one acceptable standard of
reasonable security practices and procedures. Thus, all Government departments
which are providing social media facilities must comply with ISO 27001. In case the
Government departments do not comply with ISO 27001 and provides social media
facilities on which network sensitive personal data is going to be stored, processed
or handled or dealt, the said Government department could be in breach of the law
and could face legal consequences.
xii. Further under the Information Technology (Intermediary guidelines) Rules, 2011,
since the said Government department who is provide social media facilities is an
intermediary, it has to comply with the Information Technology (Intermediary
guidelines) Rules, 2011. Under Rule 3(4) of the said rules, the Government
department shall act within thirty six hours on receiving the written complaint form
an affected person and where applicable, work with user or owner of such
information to disable such information that is in contravention of sub-rule (2).
xiii. Further the Government department shall preserve such information and associated
records for at least ninety days for investigation purposes.
xiv. In case, if the Government department does not comply with any of the above
requirements of law, then the said Government department as also the concerned
head of the department who is responsible for the social media facilities and the
concerned IT head would be liable for civil and criminal consequences.
xv. The civil consequences could consist of being sued for damages by way of
compensation upto 5 crore Rupees under summary proceedings before the
adjudicatory authorities specially constituted under the Information Technology Act,
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2000. Further if person wants, they can sue the said Government department for
damages beyond 5 crore Rupees in a court of competent jurisdiction.
xvi. In case the concerned Government department does not comply with all the
aforesaid laws, the said Government department as also the person heading the
department and the concerned IT head would also be liable for criminal liability
which could range from imprisonment of 3 years to life imprisonment and fine which
could range from 1 lakh to 10 lakh Rupees.
The aforesaid is the current legal position in India which impacts Government departments
providing social media facilities on their network. In the light of the stringent provisions of
the law and the subsequent legal consequences for non-compliance of the law, it is
therefore absolutely essential that the relevant Government department providing social
media facilities must completely comply with all the above mentioned legal parameters as
mandatorily stipulated by the Information Technology Act, 2000 as amended by the
Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 and various rules, regulations and
notifications issued there under.
The specific legal provisions referred to above as extracted below:-
• Section 2(1)(w) of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000 states as
follows:
• “Intermediary with respect to any particular electronic records, means any person
who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or
provides any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service
providers, network service providers, internet service providers, web-hosting service
providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online market
places and cyber cafes.”
• Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000: Once the
Government becomes an “[intermediary”, its liability for third party data or
information is specifically stipulated under Section 79 of the amended Information
Technology Act, 2000. Section 79 of the amended Information Technology Act, 2000
states as follows:-
“Section -79 Exemption from liability of intermediary in certain cases
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force but
subject to the provisions of sub-sections (2) and (3), an intermediary shall not be liable
for any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by
him.
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(2) The provisions of sub-section (1) shall apply if-
(a) the function of the intermediary is limited to providing access to a
communication system over which information made available by third parties is
transmitted or temporarily stored; or hosted
(b) The intermediary does not-
(i) initiate the transmission,
(ii) select the receiver of the transmission, and
(iii) select or modify the information contained in the transmission
(c) the intermediary observes due diligence while discharging his duties under this
Act and also observes such other guidelines as the Central Government may prescribe in
this behalf.
(3) The provisions of sub-section (1) shall not apply if-
(a) The intermediary has conspired or abetted or aided or induced, whether by
threats or promise or otherwise in the commission of the unlawful act.
(b) upon receiving actual knowledge, or on being notified by the appropriate
Government or its agency that any information, data or communication link residing in
or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to
commit the unlawful act, the intermediary fails to expeditiously remove or disable
access to that material on that resource without vitiating the evidence in any manner.”
Explanation- For the purpose of this section, the expression “third party
information” means any information dealt with by an intermediary in his capacity as
an intermediary.”
Section 43 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 also has a bearing upon the
subject at hand. The said provision states as follows:-
“Where a body corporate, possessing, dealing or handling any sensitive personal data or
information in a computer resource which it owns, controls or operates, is negligent in
implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures and thereby
causes wrongful loss or wrongful gain to any person, such body corporate shall be liable
to pay damages by way of compensation to the person so affected.
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Explanation.—For the purposes of this section,—
(i) “body corporate” means any company and includes a firm, sole proprietorship or
other association of individuals engaged in commercial or professional activities;
(ii) “reasonable security practices and procedures” means security practices and
procedures designed to protect such information from unauthorised access, damage, use,
modification, disclosure or impairment, as may be specified in an agreement between the
parties or as may be specified in any law for the time being in force and in the absence of
such agreement or any law, such reasonable security practices and procedures, as may be
prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with such professional bodies or
associations as it may deem fit;”
Further the Information Technology (reasonable practices and procedures and sensitive
personal data and information) Rules, 2011 define what is sensitive personal data in the
following manner:-
“3. Sensitive personal data or information.— Sensitive personal data or information of
a person means such personal informa*on which consists of informa*on rela*ng to;―
(i) password;
(ii) financial information such as Bank account or credit card or debit card or other
payment instrument details;
(iii) physical, physiological and mental health condition;
(iv) sexual orientation;
(v) medical records and history;
(vi) Biometric information;
(vii) any detail relating to the above clauses as provided to body corporate for
providing service; and
(viii) any of the information received under above clauses by body corporate for
processing, stored or processed under lawful contract or otherwise:

Provided that, any information that is freely available or accessible in public domain or
furnished under the Right to Information Act, 2005 or any other law for the time being in
force shall not be regarded as sensitive personal data or information for the purposes of
these rules.”
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• The exposure for damages by way of compensation is upto Rupees Five Crores under
the IT Act, 2000 and further criminal exposure ranges from imprisonment of 3 years
to life imprisonment.
Page 37 of 38
Annexure IV: Community Creation & Sustenance
Creating & Managing Community: The utility of social media is in its innate ability to create
community of geographically dispersed individuals. However, efforts are required on a
continuous basis to create and sustain this community. Some the steps that may be taken to
ensure the same are:
• Connect with existing networks – Existing networks refer to websites, official
publications etc. The department may also like to connect it to some blogs or pages
of willing individuals and/or employees. The method of establishing such
connections should ensure that update on any one should automatically be seen on
the other e.g. through RSS Feeds etc.
• Publicise use of social networking: Existing forms of communications can be used to
tell stakeholders about the department’s endeavour on social media. Some of the
ways in which it can be achieved include – Add social network links to leaflets,
newsletters, email signatures and website, send emails all stakeholders, mention use
of social networks at meetings, events and seminars and encourage people to join in,
ensure any service seeker can find out about, and join in with, your social networks
through posters etc. at points of service access, use TV, Radio and search engines to
generate awareness about the site.
Sustaining Community: Creation of a community perhaps easier when compared to
challenges related to sustenance of a community. Some of the steps involved in
sustaining a community include the following:
• Integrating Social Media into routine: Ideally, social networking should eventually
become part of department’s day-to-day work and not be an extra workload
external to the routine functioning of the department. It should be seen as another
way of communicating e.g. while sending an email, create a tweet simultaneously or
update the Facebook page.
• Linking with similar communities: Most people join pages from the links of friends
or communities where they are already connected. One way of sustaining
community is to link to these extended communities and provide update at least
once a week. Some social media sites such as Twitter allow the user to not only
schedule tweets but also create an automated message that is sent any new
followers on Twitter. These methods may also be used for keep the stakeholders
engaged. Social networks depend on users following each other. Networks can be
built by actively following others and encouraging them to follow you. People or
organisations tend to start following you if you publish posts that are useful or
interesting to them. It is important to identify the influencers within these
communities and build mutually beneficial relationships with them.
Page 38 of 38
• Sharing of content: People visit social networking sites not just for news but also
content that they find useful. This includes textual content – copies of government
orders, toolkits, links to forms, presentations etc. as well as visual content – photos,
video, podcasts. These often serve as both a ice-breakers as well as inputs for more
meaningful conversation.
• Managing Expectations: Each Government Ministry/Department/Official should
publicly manage expectations for their social media presences in the form of an
explicit, published “social media” policy in which expectations surrounding integral
aspects of communication with the public such as public comments, speed of
response and procedure for escalation are clearly documented. This will ensure that
citizens have fewer undue expectations from the social media presence of a
particular Government authority.

 

Information Source link  https://meity.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Approved%20Social%20Media%20Framework%20and%20Guidelines%20_2_.pdf

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