New IT Rules | Concern highly misplaced, India tells Human Rights Council

Photo for representation purpose. The new IT rules has drawn attention in view of the continued differences between the Indian govt and social media platforms.   | Photo Credit: AFP

The new IT rules of India were framed after extensive consultation with stakeholders and are meant to protect the rights of online users, India has conveyed to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement came soon after experts at the U.N. said the Rules are not in line with international human rights principles. India maintains the concerns of the experts are “highly misplaced”.

“The Rules are designed to empower ordinary users of social media. The victims of abuse at social media platforms shall have a forum for redressal of their grievances,” said a special ‘brief’ that the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva had sent to the HRC on the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The ‘brief’ said both the Houses of Parliament ‘repeatedly’ asked the government of India to ‘strengthen’ the legal framework to hold online platforms accountable under Indian laws. Three Special Rapporteurs of the U.N. had on June 11 expressed “serious concerns” about the Rules and said they amount to “infringement of a wide range of human rights”.

“On the traceability of the first originator of the information, it may be noted that the Rules seek only limited information. Only when a message already in public circulation is giving rise to violence, impinging on the unity and integrity of India, depicting a woman in a bad light, or sexual abuse of a child and when no other intrusive options are working, only then the significant social media intermediary will be required to disclose as to who started the message.”

The issue has drawn attention in view of the continued differences between the government and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The differences with online social media platforms have added to India’s continued problems with Internet which was shutdown repeatedly over the last three years in Kashmir after the dilution of Article 370 in August 2019, and in other parts of the country like Assam and Delhi following protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

However, India last week signed on the “open societies statement” at the G7 alongside other guest countries like South Africa and South Korea. The statement criticised “rising authoritarianism, disinformation and politically motivated Internet shutdowns”. Official sources clarified that the Indian concerns were accommodated in the statement.

The statement indicated India’s commitment to “protect digital civic-space” and respect for human rights and international law.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 11:18:26 PM |

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