Changes to IT Act to take effect soon

Mandatory to trace unlawful content

June 20, 2019 09:57 pm | Updated 09:57 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The rules will have implications for WhatsApp. Photo: AP

The rules will have implications for WhatsApp. Photo: AP

The government will soon notify amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act that seek to make it mandatory for online platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter to trace the originator of “unlawful” content.

“The guidelines have been almost finalised. They will be notified very soon,” an official source said. Last December, the government sought public comments on the draft amendments to the IT Act proposed with an aim to curb the spread of fake news. Besides tracing the origin of the message, the draft rules proposed the removal of “unlawful content” within 24 hours from the platform.

Opposition’s criticism

The draft rules had drawn criticism from the Opposition as well as some experts over fears of “surveillance and censorship”. Additionally, platforms such as WhatsApp have been at loggerheads with the government over the issue of tracing the origin of a message.

However, the government has pointed out that a number of lynchings occurred in 2018 mostly due to fake news being circulated on social media sites. It has further reasoned that social media had brought new challenges for the law enforcement agencies, including inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, spread of disharmony and incitement to violence.

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