Mains Q & A 01 SEPTEMBER 2023
Q1. Under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, describe how unrestricted digital media could be a social, economic, and security risk to the country and how the rules might be beneficial in this case.
GS II à Government Policies and Interventions
It is imperative to regulate digital media in light of recent events, such as the deplatforming of former US President Donald Trump following an altercation on Capitol Hill in the US and the more recent conflict between the IT ministry and Twitter over the removal of certain accounts related to the farm protests.
The 2021 Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules aim to achieve the following goals:
to create a grievance redressal procedure in order to quickly resolve grievances.
to encourage openness and responsibility with regard to digital and social media platforms.
to ensure a certain level of uniformity in the rules governing media channels, including print, television, and online.
Addressing a possible danger to the social, economic, and security of the country:
It becomes susceptible to threats as a result. Under the terms of the interim grievance redressal system, the complaint may be acknowledged within 24 hours of receipt and handled within 15 days.
Resulting in the following ten categories of content that cannot be hosted:
“Endangers India’s unity, integrity, defence, security, or sovereignty; harms friendly relations with other States; disrupts public order; incites the commission of any crime that is punishable by law; obstructs the investigation of any crime; or is offensive to any other foreign state”;
is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, racially or ethnically insulting, libellous, or invading upon another person’s privacy, including bodily privacy;
Concerning, endorsing, or motivating gaming, or behaving in a manner that defies or contravenes Indian legislation, etc.
The content has to be taken down within 36 hours if it is declared illegal by a judge or the relevant government body.
Chief compliance officer: an Indian national in charge of overseeing adherence to regulations.
A monthly compliance report that details the complaints that are received, the measures taken in response to the complaints, and the content that was removed by a major social media intermediary on a proactive basis.
The IT Act’s existing penalties are among those imposed for violating these guidelines.
Preserving Privacy: If intermediaries violate privacy, they would face the same penalties as other parties.
OTT service censorship: Depending on the age suitability of the content, the government has made content creators self-classify into five categories. These categories include YouTube, Netflix, and other OTT service providers. These are U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A. Reputable age verification methods and parental controls for content rated “A” or above (U/A 13+) would need to be installed by platforms, along with parental controls for content classified “U.”
Rebukes and Difficulties:
Instant messaging systems that rely on end-to-end encryption to safeguard the privacy of our communications would essentially lose their traceability as a result. This is problematic because the government can now require that every message received through WhatsApp or any other app that works similarly be associated with the user’s identity.
Censorship: In the absence of definite legislative backing, a system for content monitoring is being developed, which will progressively execute functions similar to those executed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for television control. For example, this now includes the ability to ban content and censorship tools like apology scrolls, as per Rule 13(4).
Everything about this is based only on an executive order; there is no legislative backing.
Regulating social media could be a useful strategy for government control over protest.
This could have detrimental effects considering how helpful these sites’ anonymity feature is. While it’s true that different opinions can be expressed on social media sites, Big Tech still needs to answer for its actions. Since the devil is frequently in the details, a careful balance must be struck in this regard. In this case, the regulations are compliant with the fiduciary duty recommendations made by the BN Srikrishna Committee.
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