MeitY fails to notify online content rules
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) told the Supreme Court in October that it would notify the Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018 by January 15. The final rules are expected to change the way internet companies are held responsible for content shared on their platforms.
A senior government official, however, told ET on the condition of anonymity that MeitY may notify the guidelines before the next hearing of the case in the top court, expected in the last week of January.
The apex court is hearing all petitions filed in various high courts with respect to the legal obligations of social media platforms and how they should provide information of users posting and transmitting ‘harmful’ content. The draft amendments to the rules, released in 2018, mandated companies to trace and report the origin of messages within 72 hours of receiving a complaint from law enforcement agencies. They also sought to “disable access” within 24 hours, of content deemed defamatory or against national security and other clauses under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. Besides, all platforms with more than five million users are required to have a registered entity in India under the Companies Act.
The amendments were criticised by multinational technology companies and privacy and free speech activists.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), which counts Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter as its members, called the proposed rules arbitrary, a violation of the Right to Privacy and financially unsound. The controversial rules will change the way social media companies monitor and take down content on the request of law enforcement agencies. Many technology lawyers and activists say the rules will be used to censor and control online speech.