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Safe harbour at risk

  • Published
    13th Mar, 2023

Context:

  • The Minister of state for IT has mentioned that the government is going to replace IT Act 2000, as a new Digital India Act 2023, which will overcome the loopholes of the existing legislation.

Digital India Act 2023:

  • About the rule: The new law acquires significance as the government has been working towards increasing the compliance burden on Internet intermediaries, in particular in the IT Rules 2021 and its later amendments. 
  • Regarding content posted/delivered: These Rules themselves had put the onus on social media intermediaries to arbitrate on content on their platforms with regulations that were weighted in favour of the government of the day.
  • Need of the law: The government has invited legal appeals as digital news media platforms among others questioned the constitutionality of the Rules.

Journey so far:

  • Amendments in IT Rules 2020: An amendment in October 2022 provided for government-appointed committees that will adjudicate on an individual user’s appeals against moderation decisions of these intermediaries. 
  • Different handling agencies: In January 2023, the IT Ministry proposed an amendment on the take down of social media/news content that has been marked as “fake” or “false” by the Press Information Bureau or any other government agency.  
  • For safety and security: The laws had already put the safe harbour protections for intermediaries at much risk via several amendments. 
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