The revised rules came into effect on Wednesday.
“It’s obviously early days and our local teams are very engaged. You know we comply with local laws and we will approach it with the same framework,” Pichai said in a video conference with select reporters from the Asia Pacific region. “We engage and explain to everyone the importance of information, promoting (the) free flow of information, but do want to respect legislative processes in democratic countries.’
On Wednesday, the governmentinternet and social media intermediaries to update it on whether they had complied with the regulations. According to the new rules, internet and social media companies with over five million users in India should appoint local grievance redressal officers, chief compliance officers and a nodal contact person whose details along with a physical contact address are to be published on their websites.
“We are committed to complying (with the laws). And to the extent there are requests (for information on users) we comply with and we will include that in our transparency reports. It is a framework with which we will operate around the world,” India-born Pichai said.
The new rules also mandate traceability of message origin and a provision for voluntary verification to establish user identities.
“We respect the sovereignty of countries and the legislative processes. We work hard to adapt and function and where we need to push back, we do that. It is a balance we have struck around the world. India is a vibrant place where we are able to provide a lot of information across a lot of our products and so will operate with that framework,” Pichai said.
On Tuesday, Facebook-owned instant messaging platformin the Delhi High Court against the new guidelines. WhatsApp argued that the rules violate the fundamental right to privacy of users. The government defended the rules, saying WhatsApp’s attempt to portray the intermediary guidelines as violative of the right to privacy is ‘misguided’.
Pichai said regulation of technology companies by countries globally is an “evolving” issue.
“It’s an evolving landscape. Tech is touching society, you know, in deeper and broader ways and the pace of change is fast. We fully expect governments, rightfully, to both scrutinize and adopt regulatory frameworks, (whether) it’s Europe copyright directive or India with information regulation,’ he said. “We see it as a natural part of societies figuring out how to govern and adapt themselves in this technology world. As a company, we are very clear about the values of free and open internet and its benefits.’
Google will also invest in more companies in India by December.
“We are looking at newer opportunities, too. So, I can definitely tell you before the end of this year, we will have more announcements,” Pichai said.
In July last year, Google set up a $10 billion (Rs 75,000 crore) India digitisation fund to invest in homegrown startups and large companies. It first invested $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms. Both Google and Jio are working jointly on an affordable Android 5G phone for the country. Google has also invested in InMobi’s lock screen platform Glance and news aggregator DailyHunt.
Pichai said the company was making progress on its affordable Android phone.
“We are very excited about the partnership with Jio. We are focused on building an affordable mobile phone. We are committed to making progress on the project and we are working with them (Jio),” Pichai said, without providing specifics.