India responds to UNHRC issues: New IT rules ‘designed to empower’ extraordinary customers of social media

Stating that nw IT rules are “designed to empower ordinary users of social media”, India on Sunday rejected apprehensions raised by the United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and mentioned that new rules had been finalised after broad consultations with varied stakeholders.

The Permanent Mission of India on the United Nations in its reply to the communication of the Special Procedures Branch of the United Nation Human Rights Council mentioned India’s democratic credentials are effectively recognised, in line with an official assertion issued by the IT ministry on Sunday.

“The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. The independent judiciary and a robust media are part of India’s democratic structure,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) assertion mentioned.

The communication from United Nation Human Rights Council (UNHRC) particular department follows a stand-off between the micro-blogging platform Twitter and the federal government on compliance with new middleman pointers and digital media ethics code notified by the federal government on February 25.

The particular department of UNHRC on June 11 had raised concern round variety of provisions of the brand new IT rules alleging that they don’t seem to satisfy the requirement of worldwide regulation and requirements associated to the rights to privateness and to freedom of opinion and expression as protected by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, acceded to by India on April 10, 1979.

The UNHRC particular department had requested the federal government to undertake huge session with all stakeholders for the brand new rule.

It additionally expressed concern on the route of the IT ministry to social media platform Twitter to close down over 1,000 accounts on January 31, 2021 on floor that these accounts had been spreading misinformation about farmers’ protest.

“We worry that the new rules may provide the authorities with the power to censor journalists who expose information of public interest and individuals who report on human rights violations in an effort to hold the government accountable,” the UNHRC particular department had mentioned.

Responding to the apprehensions, the Indian authorities mentioned “the rules are designed to empower ordinary users of social media. The victims of abuse at social media platforms shall have a forum for redressal of their grievances. The IT rules finalised after due discussion with various stakeholders”.

The authorities mentioned the enactment of recent IT Rules had develop into mandatory because of widespread issues about points referring to elevated situations of abuse of social media and digital platforms, together with inducement for recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content material, unfold of disharmony, monetary frauds, incitement of violence, public order and so on.

“The concerns alleging potential implications for freedom of expression that the new IT Rules will entail, is highly misplaced,” the assertion mentioned.

The Permanent Mission of India in its reply mentioned that MeitY and Information and Broadcasting Ministry undertook broad consultations in 2018 with varied stakeholders, together with people, civil society, trade association and organisations and invited public feedback to organize the draft rules.

“Thereafter, an inter-ministerial meeting had discussed in detail the comments received in detail and, accordingly, the rules were finalised,” the assertion mentioned.

The authorities mentioned that the Supreme Court of India in two judgements had directed it to border mandatory pointers to get rid of youngster pornography and associated contents in on-line platforms and different purposes and within the second case, the court docket had mentioned that it was crucial to border correct regime to seek out out the individuals, establishments, and our bodies who had been the originators of such content material messages.

“The Indian Parliament (Upper House – Rajya Sabha) had repeatedly asked the Govt. of India to strengthen the legal framework and make the social media platforms accountable under the Indian laws,” the assertion mentioned.

Commenting on issues round traceability of the primary originator of the data, the federal government mentioned that that the brand new IT rules seeks solely restricted data and solely when a message already in public circulation is giving rise to violence, impinging on the unity and integrity of India, depicting a lady in a foul gentle, or sexual abuse of a kid.

“When no other intrusive options are working, only then the significant social media intermediary will be required to disclose as to who started the message,” the assertion mentioned.

It mentioned that the priority that the rules could also be misused intentionally to make a lot of complaints in order to overwhelm the grievance redressal mechanisms created by social media platforms can be misplaced, exaggerated and disingenuous and exhibits lack of willingness to handle the grievances of the customers of those media platforms whereas utilizing their information to earn revenues.

“The government of India fully recognises and respects the right of privacy, as pronounced by the Supreme Court of India in KS Puttusamy case. Privacy is the core element of an individual’s existence and, in light of this, the new IT rules seeks information only on a message that is already in circulation that resulted in an offence. The rules have framed in exercise of the statutory powers of the IT Act, fully taking into account the principles of reasonableness and proportionality,” the assertion mentioned.

Twitter has written to the federal government that it intends to adjust to the brand new IT rules however has not been ready to take action as a result of Covid pandemic.

Facebook, Whatsapp, Youtube and so on have complied with the brand new rules however Whatsapp has challenged the rules earlier than court docket.

Twitter has additionally been pulled up by a Parliamentary committee headed by Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor for failing to adjust to Indian rules.

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