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Tech policy, civil groups ask govt to ‘withdraw’ new IT rules

“The Government of India is seeking to seize control of online spaces. There is a complete lack of transparency surrounding existing government censorship and surveillance demands,” said Raman Jit Singh Chima, senior international counsel and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
June 12, 2021 1:37:18 am
Digital democracy can only evolve through platforms of freedom.

Fourteen tech policy and civil groups — such as Access Now, US-based Center for Democracy and Technology, OpenNet, and Reporters Without Borders — have released a joint statement asking the central government to “immediately withdraw” the new Information Technology Rules.

“The Government of India is seeking to seize control of online spaces. There is a complete lack of transparency surrounding existing government censorship and surveillance demands. The new rules issued by the executive branch are being used to bully social media platforms and online news services into compliance,” said Raman Jit Singh Chima, senior international counsel and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now.

On February 25, the IT Ministry notified new guidelines for social media intermediaries as a part of which they were classified into two groups of significant social media intermediaries and non-significant social media intermediaries. Any platform with over 50 lakh users in India was placed under the category of significant intermediary. As part of the new norms, significant social media intermediaries had to, within 90 days, designate executives in the roles of resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer, and a nodal contact person for India.

“The rules also impose data retention and ‘traceability’ requirements which will undermine end-to-end encryption,” a joint statement by the 14 groups said.

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