Polic­ing the Net, pri­vately

Down to Earth - - Technology / Internet Freedom -

AL­MOST EV­ERY­ONE con­cerned with keep­ing the dig­i­tal land­scape free and se­cure has writ­ten to the In­dian gov­ern­ment. Watch­dogs of In­ter­net free­dom, se­cu­rity ex­perts, en­cryp­tion spe­cial­ists, aca­demics and even hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions have all been pe­ti­tion­ing Ravi Shankar Prasad, who heads the Min­istry of Elec­tron­ics and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MeitY), against the In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy [In­ter­me­di­ary Guide­lines (Amend­ment) Rules] 2018. The changes en­vis­aged are far-reach­ing, mak­ing the in­ter­me­di­aries (ser­vice providers) ac­count­able for the con­tent on their plat­forms and no longer el­i­gi­ble for safe har­bour pro­tec­tion (see ‘Amend­ments are lethal to free speech’,

The amended guide­lines de­fine in­ter­me­di­aries as any ser­vice that has more than five mil­lion users in In­dia. Such com­pa­nies will have to take down ques­tion­able con­tent within 24 hours and en­sure the trace­abil­ity of mes­sages. User data will have to be pro­vided within 72 hours of a gov­ern­ment re­quest. In­ter­me­di­aries would also have


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