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28th October 2023 (10 Topics)

Remedy worse than Malaise

Context:

The significant role played by messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal, as well as video services like YouTube, in mediating the flow of information to users is crucial, but it faces deep fakes challenge.

Proposed Measures

  • Central Government’s rules: The central government is considering the implementation of Rule 4(2) from the 2021 Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines. This rule mandates that major social media messaging platforms have the capability to identify the "first originator of the information" on their platform
  • Challenges of Deep Fakes: Advanced AI tools can create convincing deep fakes, posing a threat to electoral integrity.
  • Encryption vs. Law Enforcement: End-to-end encryption safeguards communication privacy, viewed as a challenge by law enforcement agencies. But implementation details are crucial for effectiveness.

Concerns

  • Broad Interpretation of Grounds: Public order restrictions have been applied in diverse contexts, potentially leading to excessive intrusion.
  • Undefined "First Originator": Ambiguity surrounds the term "first originator," allowing room for misinterpretation and potential misuse.
  • Privacy Compromised for All Users: Traceability relies on maintaining logs of message origins, compromising privacy for all messaging users.

Potential Ramifications

  • Legal Challenges to Rule 4(2): Rule 4(2) is currently being contested in courts, with the Tripura High Court recently staying an order.
  • Judicial intervention: Courts emphasize the need to establish a threat to public order before invoking the rule, highlighting potential legal hurdles.
  • Potential Floodgates of Message Traceability: This could have far-reaching implications for privacy, potentially surpassing the problem it seeks to solve.
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