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New IT rules to make traceability of content must : Government

, TNN|
Nov 22, 2019, 11.02 AM IST
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Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre TNN
Sanjay Dhotre, junior minister for IT (File photo)

Highlights

  • The government is all set to make changes to the IT rules
  • The key feature of the proposed amendments will include having the intermediaries periodically inform their users for compliance of rules, and following users’ agreement and privacy policy
(This story originally appeared in on Nov 22, 2019)
NEW DELHI: The government is all set to make changes to the IT rules which will make it mandatory for social media and internet companies to provide traceability of those posting information on their platforms. The changes would also make it contingent on IT intermediaries — such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google and TikTok — to remove malicious content within 24 hours upon receiving a court order, or when notified by the government.

Sanjay Dhotre, junior minister for IT, told Rajya Sabha that the changes are being made as part of amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, that were notified under Section 79 of the IT Act.

The key features of the proposed amendments will include having the intermediaries periodically inform their users for compliance of rules, and following users’ agreement and privacy policy.

Also, traceability of the originator of information will need to be provided, Dhotre said, reiterating a long-pending demand of the government to find out the original source behind malicious and illegal content.

Facebook and its instant messenger WhatsApp have been resisting the government’s demand on this aspect, while arguing that doing so would undermine its policy on privacy and end-to-end encryption.

Facebook global executive Nick Clegg — who met IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in September — had mooted alternatives to absolute traceability of messages, including the use of ‘meta data’ and machine intelligence for dealing with the issue, even offering to harness WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook linkages to provide assistance to law-enforcement agencies.

However, Prasad has been unequivocal in his demand that the company provide details of people behind nefarious messages and fake news to law-enforcement agencies.

Among the other amendments that the government plans to make to the rules governing intermediaries is making it a must for companies with more than 50 lakh users to have an office in India and appoint a nodal officer for liaising with law enforcement agencies.
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