Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee to meet on Thursday to discuss sections 79 and 66 of IT Act

In a shift of stance that promises interim relief to media organisations and civil society battling stringent provisions in the IT Rules for its impact on free speech as well as online freedom, the government has said it is open to taking key objections on board and evaluating amendments to the IT Act if merited.

So far, the government has been maintaining that misuse of the IT Rules has been on account of overreach by law enforcement agencies and not necessarily on account of faulty language in the legislation.

It is under the shadow of such exchanges that a meeting of the Cyber Regulation Advisory Committee (CRAC) will take place on Thursday at Sanchar Bhavan.

The agenda of the meeting includes a discussion on Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act and the Intermediary Guidelines 2011 as well as on Section 66, which pertains to punishment for sending offensive messages through communications, etc.

Interim guidelines likely

Speaking to The Hindu, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said the purpose of the meeting was “to take key objections on board and issue interim guidelines and safeguards to State governments on exactly in what circumstances power should be exercised in order to create an element of protection for citizens.”

“Since amending the Act will be a tedious process that will go well into the Budget Session of Parliament, we will ensure that only persons significantly high up in the hierarchy can exercise these powers as an interim safeguard to prevent overreach and violation of India’s Constitutional provisions,” Mr. Sibal added.

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