Digital India Initiatives

Laying the foundation for a future-ready digital India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Digital India Bill and regulations

Mains level: Technology regulation in India, features of Digital India Bill and way forward for safer internet ecosystem


Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT has taken a proactive stance in organizing consultations for the much-anticipated Digital India Bill. This proposed legislation aims to replace the outdated Information Technology (IT) Act, which has been in effect for 23 years. By upgrading the legal framework, the government intends to address emerging challenges such as user harm, competition, and misinformation prevalent in the digital space.

Relevance of the topic

  • The number of active internet users in India is expected to grow to 900 million from the current 759 million by 2025. According to NCRB latest data, India recorded massive 214 per cent rise in cases related to misinformation and rumours. Also, the fact check unit of the Press Information Bureau (PIB) Since its inception has received over 37,000 complaints. It has busted 1,160 cases of fake news.
  • These facts necessitate a comprehensive reform regulating the digital landscape of the country. Social media has a massive influence on the society, disturbing and promoting social harmony, where half of its population is online.

What are the flaws of the current regime?

  • Broad Definition of Intermediaries: The current IT Act defines intermediaries as any entity between a user and the Internet, which includes a wide range of services. This broad definition encompasses platforms like video communications, matrimonial websites, email services, and online comment sections, making it difficult to differentiate between different types of intermediaries and their associated responsibilities.
  • Uniform Treatment of Intermediaries: The existing rules treat all intermediaries, including Internet service providers, websites, e-commerce platforms, and cloud services, in a similar manner. This uniform treatment fails to account for the varying levels of risk and harm presented by different types of intermediaries in the digital space.
  • Stringent Obligations for Most Intermediaries: The current rules impose stringent obligations on most intermediaries, such as a strict 72-hour timeline for responding to law enforcement requests and content takedowns. These obligations may not be proportionate to the size and capabilities of the intermediaries, leading to unnecessary burdens and costs for smaller players in the industry.
  • Lack of Differentiation for Lower-Risk Intermediaries: Licensed intermediaries, such as Microsoft Teams or customer management solutions like Zoho, which have a closed user base and present a lower risk of harm, are treated the same as conventional social media platforms. This lack of differentiation imposes additional costs and liabilities on these intermediaries without significantly reducing the risks associated with the Internet.
  • Limited Global Precedents: Only a few countries have developed comprehensive frameworks for the regulation of intermediaries. Therefore, there is a lack of well-established precedents and best practices to draw upon when addressing the challenges posed by emerging technologies and digital platforms.


The need for change

  • Evolving Technological Landscape: The digital landscape is constantly evolving, introducing new technologies, platforms, and services. A new legislation is necessary to update and align the regulatory framework with the present and future technological realities.
  • Emerging Challenges: The digital space presents new challenges that the current regime fails to adequately address. Issues such as user harm, competition, and misinformation have become prevalent and require targeted and effective regulatory measures. The proposed Bill aims to tackle these challenges by introducing provisions specifically designed to mitigate risks and ensure accountability in the digital ecosystem.
  • Inadequate Classification of Intermediaries: The current regime lacks a precise and nuanced classification system for intermediaries. By categorizing intermediaries into distinct classes based on their roles and responsibilities, the proposed Bill seeks to establish a more effective and proportionate regulatory framework.
  • Global Precedents: The absence of comprehensive global precedents for regulating intermediaries leaves room for India to develop its own framework. By considering international experiences, such as the European Union’s Digital Services Act and Australia’s classification system, India can learn from best practices and adapt them to suit its unique requirements. This allows for a more informed and balanced approach to technology regulation.
  • Balancing Accountability and Innovation: The need for change lies in striking a balance between ensuring accountability and fostering innovation in the digital space. The proposed Bill aims to minimize obligations on intermediaries while ensuring that regulatory requirements are proportionate, thereby creating an environment that promotes both online safety and business growth.

key focus areas for India

  • Classification Framework: India needs to establish a clear and effective classification framework for intermediaries. This framework should differentiate between different types of intermediaries based on their roles and responsibilities. It should also consider the risks associated with each category and assign appropriate obligations accordingly.
  • Risk Assessments: The proposed Bill should incorporate provisions that require intermediaries, especially those offering communication services, to conduct risk assessments. These assessments should take into account factors such as the number of active users, the potential harm posed, and the likelihood of harmful content going viral.
  • Proportionate Obligations: The focus should be on ensuring that regulatory obligations placed on intermediaries are proportionate to their size, capabilities, and potential risks. At the same time, obligations such as appointing a grievance officer, cooperating with law enforcement, and removing problematic content within reasonable timelines should be imposed to maintain user safety and address concerns effectively.
  • Differentiation of Intermediaries: It is crucial to differentiate intermediaries providing communication services, such as social media platforms, from other types of intermediaries like search engines and online marketplaces. Communication services involve direct interaction between end-users and require specific considerations in terms of content moderation, grievance redressal mechanisms, and user protection.
  • Consultation with Industry: To ensure the effectiveness of the proposed approach, it is essential to engage in a collaborative dialogue with industry stakeholders. Regular consultations should be held to define metrics for risk assessment, establish appropriate thresholds, and review the regulatory framework periodically.


Need for an effective fact-checking mechanism

  • Combatting Misinformation: Misinformation spreads rapidly and widely on digital platforms, leading to the distortion of facts and public understanding. An effective fact-checking mechanism helps identify and debunk false or misleading information, ensuring accurate and reliable information reaches the public.
  • Protecting Public Health and Safety: Misinformation related to health, safety, and emergencies can have severe consequences. Fact-checking plays a vital role in countering false claims about medical treatments, public health measures, and other critical information, ensuring people’s well-being and safety.
  • Safeguarding Social Cohesion: Misinformation can fuel social divisions, spread hate speech, and contribute to societal unrest. Fact-checking promotes responsible and ethical communication, discouraging the spread of false narratives that can harm social cohesion.
  • Empowering Media Literacy: Fact-checking initiatives raise awareness about the importance of media literacy and critical thinking skills. They provide resources and tools for individuals to evaluate information sources, detect misinformation, and become more discerning consumers of digital content.
  • Supporting Journalistic Integrity: Fact-checking enhances the integrity of journalism by verifying facts and holding media organizations accountable for accuracy. It reinforces journalistic ethics and promotes responsible reporting, contributing to a vibrant and reliable media ecosystem.
  • Strengthening Digital Resilience: By actively debunking misinformation, fact-checking initiatives contribute to building a resilient digital ecosystem. They empower individuals to recognize and resist the influence of false information, reducing the potential harm caused by viral falsehoods.
  • Promoting Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Fact-checking equips policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders with accurate information to inform evidence-based decision-making processes. It contributes to the formulation of effective policies and interventions grounded in reliable data and analysis.


  • The Digital India Bill represents a significant step in reshaping technology regulation in India. Collaborative efforts with industry stakeholders will be crucial in defining effective risk assessment metrics and ensuring periodic reviews. The proposed framework has the potential to establish a safer Internet ecosystem while providing a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

Also read:

Highlights of the proposed Digital India Act, 2023


Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch