Indian internet cannot be like Chinese internet: MoS Chandrasekhar

Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that no country can dominate the semiconductor supply chain alone when moving away from China

March 04, 2023 01:27 pm | Updated 09:29 pm IST - New Delhi

Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar. File

Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar. File

“We have squarely defined three boundary conditions around which we believe everyone should operate on the Indian internet,” Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology said on March 4.

Among these conditions was that “the internet should be open; it should certainly not be like the Chinese internet. It should be a safe and trusted space”. Mr. Chandrasekhar was speaking at a Raisina Dialogue 2023 session on “Protecting Our Technology Futures”.

‘No country can dominate semiconductor’

On de-risking global supply chains from over-reliance on Chinese semiconductors, Mr. Chandrasekhar said that no country can do this end-to-end without collaborating with ‘like minded nations’, a view he had expressed in a session on March 3 as well.

“There’s a reordering of the semiconductor world,” Mr. Chandrasekhar said, in an apparent reference to the U.S.’s CHIPS Act, and India’s efforts to attract investments in manufacturing high-tech equipment. “No country is going to be able to do this alone.” Countries shouldn’t “delude” themselves into thinking they’ll be the “king of the hill” in localising the entire supply chain, he warned.

IT Rules and disinformation

Mr. Chandrasekhar dismissed criticism around the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on freedom of expression, arguing that the rules were put in place to ensure accountability for platforms and a “safe and trusted” internet.

In January, the government proposed an amendment that would bar platforms from allowing posts that have been flagged as fake news by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s fact-check unit, which has in the past repeated government denials of articles as a debunking of reporting.

On internet shutdowns

Responding to a question on internet shutdowns, Mr. Chandrasekhar said that while India had a numerically high number of them, the percentage of the impacted population was low, and that these shutdowns were imposed in a lawful manner.

India had 75 shutdowns in 2022, according to a tracker by the Software Freedom Law Center. Starting with the abrogation of Section 377 of the Constitution revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the government imposed an 18 month internet shutdown in the Union Territory for what it said were security reasons.

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