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Centre begins talks for brand new IT regulation, appears at stalking to social media


MONTHS AFTER its new guidelines for social media intermediaries beneath the IT Act of 2000 triggered a faceoff with tech giants Fb and Twitter, the Centre has began a recent spherical of consultations for a very new IT regulation “to cope with current and future circumstances”, The Indian Specific has learnt.

In February, the Ministry of Electronics and Info Expertise (MeitY) had launched stringent guidelines beneath the prevailing IT Act for social media intermediaries, which was challenged by a number of stakeholders in numerous excessive courts. Each the Madras and the Bombay Excessive Courts have stayed operation of key elements of the foundations. The Bombay Excessive Courtroom noticed that the brand new guidelines are “manifestly unreasonable and transcend the IT Act, its goals and provisions”.

Senior authorities officers informed The Indian Specific that the brand new regulation, when it’s put in place, “will subsume all these guidelines”, together with the organising of a grievances redressal and compliance mechanism, and officers. “Our aim is to make sure compliance. If there may be compliance with out litigation, why not do this?” a senior official mentioned.

Nonetheless, the official mentioned, there could also be some tweaks to take away any prison legal responsibility on the grievance and compliance officers appointed by intermediaries.

The brand new Act can also be prone to comprise provisions that cowl “newer elements of know-how”, reminiscent of blockchain, bitcoin and darkish internet, amongst others.

“The outdated IT Act of 2000 was drawn up primarily protecting in thoughts prevention of easy fraud, blocking of internet sites and unlawful content material of various sorts that existed then. Rather a lot has modified. It will not make sense to amend the outdated Act. We’d slightly introduce a brand new regulation to cope with current and future circumstances that will come up,” an official mentioned.

The brand new regulation, sources mentioned, will outline varied types of on-line sexual harassment, reminiscent of stalking, bullying, morphing of pictures, and different strategies, whereas additionally laying out clear pointers on punishment for these offences, the officers mentioned.

“Proper now, there isn’t any authorized definition of what consists of on-line bullying, or stalking, or the precise penal provision for different types of sexual harassment reminiscent of making undesirable feedback, morphing pictures, releasing or posting personal pictures with out somebody’s consent. The intermediaries are doing it, however it’s on a case-to-case foundation method. A pan-India regulation is required,” an official mentioned.

The brand new IT Act may even improve the onus on intermediaries for the content material current and posted on their platform. “The safety that Part 79 (of the present IT Act) presents is simply too wide-ranging. A social media middleman can’t declare safety if it doesn’t proactively work on eradicating unlawful content material on its platform reminiscent of porn, nudity, or messages that facilitate terror and disruption,” an official mentioned.

One other main change, which can additionally characteristic within the new Information Safety Legislation that’s within the works, is a strict ‘age-gating’ coverage, which would require the consent of fogeys when kids join social media web sites. This plan has been opposed by social media intermediaries however officers mentioned the Authorities needs to make sure that kids under 18 are “protected and really feel protected on the web”.

Earlier this 12 months, the IT Ministry’s new guidelines for social media intermediaries had led to a standoff with Fb and Twitter with each lastly appointing the grievance and compliance personnel mandated but in addition approaching court docket.

The Ministry had additionally requested these platforms to submit month-to-month reviews on complaints acquired from customers and motion taken. A 3rd requirement was for fast messaging apps to make provisions for monitoring the originator of a message.

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