‘Potential of Abuse’: SIO Demands Revoking of New IT Intermediary Rules

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The rules have come at a time when several litigations are challenging the government over its stance on surveillance and privacy

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has urged the government to withdraw the new rules that have been enacted to regulate social media and online news outlets arguing that the rules have vast potential of abuse at the hands of intrusive state machinery in the absence of data protection law.

Under the new rules, Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021, which cover social media intermediaries as well as the digital news and OTT Platforms the social media platforms are required to preserve data for 180 days – double the time period prescribed earlier – ostensibly for investigative purposes. According to the rules, the data has to be preserved even after a user has deleted their accounts.

They also provide for the government and courts to force the platforms to identify the originator of specific information, even though it is still unclear how this kind of identification will be verified.

“The rules will allow the government to break any type of end-to-end encryption to gain knowledge of who sent what messages and also get to know its contents. The requirements will also break existing protocols for the deployment of end-to-end encryption that has been built through rigorous cybersecurity testing over the years,” the statement said.

SIO said in its statement that the rules have come at a time when several litigations are challenging the government over its stance on surveillance and privacy. Excessive governmental control over digital news, OTT content and other such areas require much more deliberations and wide-scale consultation with the experts and different stakeholders.

The organisation demanded that the government should  initiate broad-based consultations and deliberations before redrafting them. “We further urge civil society to constantly engage in dialogue on the subject of digital privacy and freedom of expression,” it said.

 

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