Centre begins talks for brand new IT legislation, appears to be like at stalking to social media

MONTHS AFTER its new rules for social media intermediaries beneath the IT Act of 2000 triggered a faceoff with tech giants Facebook and Twitter, the Centre has began a contemporary spherical of consultations for a totally new IT legislation “to deal with present and future circumstances”, The Indian Express has learnt.

In February, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had launched stringent rules beneath the present IT Act for social media intermediaries, which was challenged by a number of stakeholders in several excessive courts. Both the Madras and the Bombay High Courts have stayed operation of key elements of the rules. The Bombay High Court noticed that the brand new rules are “manifestly unreasonable and go beyond the IT Act, its aims and provisions”.

Senior authorities officers advised The Indian Express that the brand new legislation, when it’s put in place, “will subsume all these rules”, together with the establishing of a grievances redressal and compliance mechanism, and officers. “Our goal is to ensure compliance. If there can be compliance without litigation, why not do that?” a senior official stated.

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

The new Act can be more likely to include provisions that cowl “newer aspects of technology”, equivalent to blockchain, bitcoin and darkish internet, amongst others.

“The old IT Act of 2000 was drawn up mainly keeping in mind prevention of simple fraud, blocking of websites and illegal content of different kinds that existed then. A lot has changed. It would not make sense to amend the old Act. We would rather introduce a new law to deal with present and future circumstances that may arise,” an official stated.

The new legislation, sources stated, will outline numerous types of on-line sexual harassment, equivalent to stalking, bullying, morphing of images, and different strategies, whereas additionally laying out clear tips on punishment for these offences, the officers stated.

“Right now, there is no legal definition of what consists of online bullying, or stalking, or the exact penal provision for other forms of sexual harassment such as making unwanted comments, morphing photos, releasing or posting private photos without someone’s consent. The intermediaries are doing it, but it is on a case-to-case basis approach. A pan-India law is needed,” an official stated.

The new IT Act may also improve the onus on intermediaries for the content material current and posted on their platform. “The protection that Section 79 (of the current IT Act) offers is too wide-ranging. A social media intermediary cannot claim protection if it does not proactively work on removing illegal content on its platform such as porn, nudity, or messages that facilitate terror and disruption,” an official stated.

Another main change, which can additionally characteristic within the new Data Protection Law 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 stated the Government needs to make sure that kids beneath 18 are “protected and feel safe on the internet”.

Earlier this yr, the IT Ministry’s new rules for social media intermediaries had led to a standoff with Facebook and Twitter with each lastly appointing the grievance and compliance personnel mandated but additionally approaching court docket.

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

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