Explaining the new intermediary rules for social media, the Twitter-Centre spat, and more | The Hindu In Focus Podcast

May 29, 2021 11:48 pm | Updated 11:48 pm IST

There are two sets of headlines that have been dominating the news in recent days, both of which have the Central government sparring with global tech giants.

One is on the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which came into effect on May 26. The rules apply to various categories of online content providers such as social media platforms, OTT streaming services and online news providers. Some of its key points relate to the setting up of grievance redressal systems and having local personnel to ensure compliance with rules. One requirement for large social media providers is that under certain conditions, they will have to trace the originator of a message. This is a problem for messaging apps like WhatsApp, whose key feature is end-to-end encryption. The fear is that if an option is given to break this end-to-end encryption, it will lead to mass surveillance. WhatsApp has now approached the Delhi High Court against the rules.

The other set of headlines are on the back and forth between the Centre and Twitter on the 'toolkit' issue. Twitter had marked a tweet from BJP leaders Sambit Patra on an alleged 'toolkit' by the Congress party, as 'manipulated media'. This has led to the government accusing the microblogging site of defaming India and to the Delhi police visiting the company offices. The San Francisco-based company has called the police visit an intimidation tactic. Now, where do these two sets of headlines intersect? What are the nittie gritties of the new IT rules? What are the prevailing rules on privacy? We explain in this podcast.

Guest: Apar Gupta, Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation

Host: P.J. George

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