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Innocent Admission

Our democratic credentials recognised, IT rules framed post talks with stakeholders: India to UN

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New Delhi, June 20, 2021 (Agency) The Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations Office has responded to the concerns raised by Special Procedures Branch of the Human Rights Council regarding India’s new IT norms, wherein the Permanent Mission has stressed that India’s democratic credentials are well recognised and the new norms were finalised after due consultation with various stakeholders.

The letter by the Mission said: “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting undertook broad consultations in 2018 with various stakeholders, including individuals, civil society, industry association and organizations and invited public comments to prepare the draft Rules.”

Thereafter an inter-ministerial meeting had discussed in detail the comments received and, accordingly, the rules were finalised.

It also told the UN arm: “India’s democratic credentials are well recognized”.

The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, the Permanent Mission of India said in its letter, adding that the independent judiciary and a robust media are part of India’s democratic structure.

“The Permanent Mission of India requests that the enclosed information may be brought to the attention of the concerned Special Rapporteurs,” it said.

The Indian Government and the US-headquartered Twitter are in sort of a tussle over the new norms, wherein the Centre has said that the social media platform has failed to comply with the norms.

The company, however, recently said that it has appointed an Interim Chief Compliance Officer as suggested under new intermediary guidelines.

The Government of India, in exercising its powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (‘new IT Rules’) and notified the same on 25 February, 2021.

For the significant intermediaries, the Rules have come into effect from May 26, 2021.

Although initially the significant intermediaries were largely reluctant to comply with the new norms, by and large all the players have complied by now, and Twitter has said that it will provide details of the interim Chief Compliance Officer to the government soon.

Twitter has also lost its status of intermediary platform in India over non-compliance to the new intermediary guidelines.

A day after Twitter said that it has appointed an Interim Chief Compliance Officer, Union Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last Wednesday said that the US-based company has failed to comply with the new intermediary guidelines.

In a series of tweets, the minister came down hard on the platform over its reluctance to comply with the new norms.

“There are numerous queries arising as to whether Twitter is entitled to safe harbour provision. However, the simple fact of the matter is that Twitter has failed to comply with the Intermediary Guidelines that came into effect from the 26th of May,” Prasad had said.

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