Social media regulations
The last few years have seen an enormous increase in the use of social media in a developing country like India. The main reason for this increased use of the internet proved to be the lower internet tariffs, use of smart devices and last-mile connectivity. As more and more people are becoming part of the Internet and social media platforms, the regulations too need to be put in place.
The union government has been in the process of finalising the laws on regulating social media and the process is slated to be completed by next year.
The government had tasked the Electronics and IT Ministry to draft the Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018, and these were published for public comments on its website on December 24, 2018, requesting suggestions and objections from concerned stakeholders and the public.
Though various rounds of industry consultations and discussions involving various chambers of commerce, associations and social media companies have already taken place, various ministries including the all important Home and Information ministry, besides others have also put in their efforts to finalise the final draft.
The updated draft rules are under discussion and as it has to be vetted by the Law and Justice Ministry, the entire process will be completed by January 2020.
However, certain apprehensions have been expressed while finalizing the final draft. The government has raised concerns over the exponential rise in hate speech, fake news, and threat to public order, anti-national activities, defamatory postings, and other unlawful activities in these platforms.
The government believes that internet has emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity and rules need to be revised for effective regulation of intermediaries keeping in view the ever growing threats to individual rights and the country’s security.
Social media platforms have been acting too neutral and this is where the problem lies. Since these platforms act as the intermediaries their role in regulating and controlling the content cannot be ignored.
The government needs to amendment the existing Intermediaries Guidelines Rules 2011, to make intermediaries more liable towards the content that is published and transmitted on their platform.
However, all this needs to be planned and executed meticulously as the regulations should not get in the way of curbing one’s freedom of speech. In a region like ours where the justice system is fraught with unending delays no such regulation should be put in place that will curtail a common man’s dissent and his right to disagree.