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HC notice to Centre on plea against IT Rules

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

HC notice to Centre on plea against IT Rules:


Context:

The Delhi high court has sought the Centre’s reply on a plea challenging the new IT rules for allegedly being in gross disregard of the fundamental rights of free speech and privacy of users of social media intermediaries such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Controversial provisions in the new rule:

  1. The new rules give excess of the powers given under the parent legislation, the IT Act, to voluntarily remove access to information that does not conform to Rule 3(1)(b).
  2. They also allow the social media platforms to place the users under constant surveillance which is a gross breach of the right to privacy.
  3. The rules also mandate that even if the person is not under any investigation for violation of the rules, the intermediary has to retain his or her data without any justification, which is a gross violation of the right to privacy of the user.
  4. No appellate procedure has been provided for under the rules against the decision of a Grievance Officer and/or the Chief Compliance Officer.
  5. There is also no mandate that the author of the allegedly objectionable information has to be heard before deciding any complaint against him/her.

In simple terms, the petitioner said that the social media intermediaries cannot be given the power to decide, on the basis of a complaint or otherwise, as to which information is liable to taken down.

 

Overview of the new rules:

  1. It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media.
  2. Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7.
  3. A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days.
  4. Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made.
  5. A monthly report: They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal.
  6. There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee.

 

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Overview of the new rules.
  2. Who are intermediaries as per the definition?
  3. What is safe harbour protection?
  4. Grievance redressal mechanism as provided under the new rules.

Mains Link:

What are the concerns being raised against the new IT rules? Discuss ways to address these concerns.

Sources: the Hindu.