06 December, 2019
Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
News: The government said that it was working on rules to mandate social media companies to identify and remove child sexual abuse material, rape images and content promoting terrorism without affecting privacy.
Prelims and Mains focus: about the significance of the move and challenges in its implementation, debate between online regulation and privacy
About the govt’s move
The government has invited public comments on its draft of amendments to the Intermediary Rules 2011 and has received public inputs on the same.
The amendments inter alia propose that intermediaries should proactively identify and remove child sexual abuse material, rape/gangrape imagery and contents promoting terrorism without compromising accuracy or privacy using technologybased tools and mechanism. The rules are presently being finalised.
Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, empowers the government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above.
Existing regulations and misuse:
Need for regulations:
The speed and reach of social media has meant that subversive rumours and fake news get aired with impunity. This has resulted in serious law and order problems. In India, this phenomenon has assumed dangerous proportions. Fake news on WhatsApp has led to lynchings and communal flare-ups in many parts of the country. This menace needs to be curbed.
Challenges before the government:
Too stringent a policy of policing social media could violate the individual’s right to privacy.
It’s not easy to force Facebook Inc., the owner of WhatsApp, to give up on the app’s unique selling proposition to the user of complete end-to-end confidentiality.
Any conversation on additional regulation of social media brings up concerns about privacy and surveillance.
Therefore, any bid at regulating expression online has to be proportional and concrete with adequate redressal mechanisms and without any blanket provisions.
Source: The Hindu
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