Are the Information Technology Rules,2021 an assault on privacy?

It would not be untrue to begin by saying, authoritarian governments crave independence and autonomy. They don’t like being given instructions of any sort even when stuck in a crisis of high magnitude. Unfortunately, they find ways to curb freedom of speech and expression, which are the main tenets of running a democratic society. Undoubtedly speech can also be curbed in a unique fashion by the government by imposing extraordinary conditions on the press/media.

The recently notified Information Technology Rules,2021 is somewhat on similar lines although the government asserts that they are not interested in the contents of the messages on digital platforms. But the rules are designed in such a way that they overstep a major territory of privacy, giving rise to censorship and lessening user privacy.

The rules are intentionally structured to create overarching impediments and command criminal penalties for non-compliance. The Government of India had devised these regulations in February this year. These rules expect the social media intermediaries/ platforms to adhere to a tremendously stronger collection of rules.

While there are decisive features about the said guidelines, there are, proportionately, conspicuous obscurity as well.

Firstly, the rules must be attributed to their positives, which include removing non-consensual intimate pictures within 24 hours, publication of transparent compliance reports, anchoring dispute resolution mechanism for content removal, and affixing a label to information for users.

However, these rules come with too many evident pitfalls rendering them deficient. Now, the rules are introduced via delegated legislation, which rules out the option of parliamentary sanctions. This means there endures no democratic and representative accountability altogether. Second, there was no deliberation with the stakeholders of the digital platform or OTT when regulations were slapped across their faces. Three, an intermediary is directed to bring down content within 36 hours of the orders by the government, the strict timeline definitely questions the authenticity of the same. Fifth the obligatory requirement of traceability breaks down the end-to-end encryption facility given to the users.

Regulation has a significant position in the scheme of things, and no one bolsters giving a gratis ticket to digital platforms. Moreover, the laws to battle illegal content are already on point. And even if the government wants to introduce new laws, it should start afresh with public deliberation, followed by parliamentary discussion. 

Therefore in my opinion, either the aforementioned should be carried out or these rules must be done away with as soon as possible. And that would be in the best interest of the nation’s political, legal, and moral sanctity.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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