Govt moves to access and trace all ‘unlawful’ content online

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of media & social networking sites in internal security challenges

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various sections mentioned

Mains level: Menace of fake news in India and measures to curb it


News

  • In what raises questions over freedom of speech online, the government is proposing draft amendments to rules governing content.

Filtering Unlawful content

  1. The proposed amendments to rules under Section 79 of the IT Act make it mandatory for online platforms to “proactively” deploy technology, which would enable a filtering of content seen as “unlawful”.
  2. They also require end-to-end encryption to be broken so that the origin of messages can be traced.
  3. In the draft of Amendment Rule 3(9) requires “intermediaries”, or online platforms, to “deploy technology based automated tools or appropriate mechanisms, with appropriate controls.
  4. This should be done for proactively identifying or removing or disabling access to unlawful information or content.
  5. The insertion of a new Rule 3(4) activates a pro-active monthly notification across intermediaries to warn users repeatedly.
  6. Rule 3(5), which will introduce a “traceability requirement”.

Background

  1. These changes will push back the regulation and legal architecture a full circle, from where it had been nudged after the Supreme Court ruled in the Shreya Singhal case in 2015.
  2. The landmark ruling on March 24, 2015, struck down Section 66A of the IT Act, which allowed the arrest of those allegedly posting offensive content online.

What do these rules imply?

  1. The proposed changes would mean that social media platforms with more than “50 lakh users” would be liable to help the government “within 72 hours” of a query.
  2. They would be expected to appoint a nodal person of contact for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers to ensure compliance.
  3. The draft amendments envisage that online platforms will keep a record of “unlawful activity” for a period of “180 days”, double the 90 days in the older version.

Why such move?

  1. The government is keen to be acting before the general elections on the proliferation of social media and its connection to mob violence seen in the recent past.
  2. The govt. is contemplating pro-active censorship and breaking encryption with traceability .
Social Media: Prospect and Challenges
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