I&B and IB ministry say Modi government’s law does not allow regulation of digital content: report

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government was advised by two departments to release a new law to regulate online content as the existing law did not allow it, but instead chose to go the controversial route of coming out with a new set of IT (Information Technology) Rules governing social media companies, digital media platforms and streaming services, according to a new media report.

the Morning background, a tech industry publication, reported on Friday morning that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had in 2020 “sought the enactment of a new law to regulate the online content ”during intergovernmental discussions that took place on digital media and fake news, among other similar issues.

“Although it subsequently flip-flopped on this position, the I&B ministry even prepared a draft cabinet memorandum in early July of last year stating, among other things, that the IT Act 2000 is not primarily intended to regulate content on electronic devices, so a new law is needed to that end, ”the report notes.

“The IB, for its part, did not find the IT law adequate to regulate online content and was in favor of a ‘law-based regulatory framework’ for this purpose,” he said. he adds.

In an August 2020 memo, the IB also observed that “there is no law to govern the streaming of content for public viewing by OCCPs. [online curated content providers like Netflix] and UGCP [user generated content providers like YouTube] in India…”

These alleged revelations, which come from documents obtained through RTI requests, are significant in light of the various legal challenges that have been raised against IT rules, which are officially known as IT rules. (intermediate directives and code of ethics for digital media). , 2021.

These rules aim to regulate the content disseminated by digital media platforms by creating a grievance mechanism overseen by a group of bureaucrats. While the Center insists this is necessary to tackle disinformation and fake news, the new regulations have also been challenged by a wide range of stakeholders *.

A recurring theme that has emerged from these impending court cases is that the new computer rules seem to go beyond the scope of its parent law (the Information Technology Act, 2000).

For example, in its application to the Madras High Court, the Digital News Publishers Association, whose members make up some of India’s largest and most popular newspapers, said: “The IT rules clearly go beyond the provisions of the computer law and amounts to extending and extending in a significant, unfair and illegal manner its scope, which is absolutely inadmissible under the applicable laws.

Role of PMO?

This vein of criticism seems to have found an echo in the minds of the I&B ministry and the Intelligence Bureau.

According to Morning background, the Prime Minister’s office would also be in favor of a “rulebook” in terms of the regulation of digital content.

“It appears from the proposal document that the PMO weighed in favor of the rules route to regulate digital content. In our questions to the I&B and IT ministries as well as the PMO, we asked if this was because the PMO was in favor of regulating digital content by rules under the Law on Internet. computer that it was finally decided to go in this direction, but received no response. “, notes the report.

In May 2021, Article 14 reported that two legal advisers in the justice and justice ministry also raised concerns about how the new IT rules were worded, with a co-secretary saying the IT ministry should be informed that the rules may “require certain corresponding amendments in the IT Act 2000 to justify its deviations”.

Disclaimer: The Foundation for Independent Journalism, which is the publisher of Thread, filed a petition with the Delhi High Court to challenge the new IT rules.


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