Social media companies could be held responsible for user-generated content in IndiaGlobal Voices


Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, United States. Image via Wikimedia Commons By User:QUICKLY. CC BY-SA-4.0.

Twitter found itself outside the “Safe Harbor” intermediary liability rules on June 16, which normally provides legal protection against its user-generated content. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Indian Minister of Law and Justice, Electronics and Information and Communications Technology series of tweets how the company did not respect the Information Technology Regulation 2021 of the Indian Computing Act 2000. In response, at the end of June, Indian news organizations Quint and the Wire filed petitions to the Delhi High Court challenging the constitutionality of these rules.

While Prasad has spoken out strongly about Twitter’s alleged non-compliance with India’s IT rules, many free speech activists and civil society representatives suggest the rules themselves are the problem. . The United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression, Privacy and the Right to Peaceful Assembly have released a report on June 11, stressing that the rules “do not appear to meet the requirements of international law and standards relating to the rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and expression”.

Prasad ad The Twitter breach hours after police filed a report in Ghaziabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where a 72-year-old Muslim man was assaulted by five Hindu nationalist men. Many Twitter users tweeted about this event, and Twitter eventually limit Tweets from 50 users related to this incident at the request of the Indian Ministry of Informatics.

The announcement came just after Twitter’s alleged IT non-compliance. The Indian government has made several attempts to have tweets critical of the government deleted. Patra and many other BJP affiliates falsely accused the Indian National Congress in mid-May of having developed a “toolbox” to damage the image of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during India’s second wave of war. COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. The Indian government then warned Twitter in mid-May to remove the “manipulated media»Flag for BJP spokesperson’s tweets Sambit Patra. At the end of May, the Delhi police raided the Twitter office.

The Center for Internet and Society, a respected Indian policy research organization, suggested in a detailed report on the liability of intermediaries in India that Section 69A of the Information Technology Act has been abused by the Indian government to justify the removal of content that is constitutionally protected as freedom of expression. The authors of this report fear that IT law may undermine the ability of social media companies to protect human rights on their platforms.

On June 29, Indian journalist Kashish Singh of Quint reported one police report has been filed against Twitter India Managing Director Manish Maheshwari by Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist militant organization. The Bajrang Dal, the BJP and a series of other right-wing Hindu nationalist organizations constitute the Sangh Parivar led by the paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Leading players in international civil society such as Mozilla sharing their serious concerns about India’s IT rules when they went into effect in February 2021, suggesting they endanger the open internet.

The rules are divided into Three parties, with the first defining legal terms, including newly coined phrases such as “important social media intermediaries” (SSMI, such as Facebook and Twitter), and parts two and three detailing compliances and requirements. India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is responsible for administering guidelines for messaging-related intermediaries such as WhatsApp (owned by Facebook), Facebook Messenger and Telegram, and intermediaries related to messaging. media such as Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Twitter.

The third part of the rules is also aimed at regulating digital news media, but the details on these platforms are still unclear, as is the regulation of over-the-top (OTT) platforms, notably Amazon Prime. , Disney + Hotstar and Netflix through the Department of Information and Broadcasting. the requests filed by the Straight and thread in the Delhi High Court may help clarify the constitutionality of these rules.


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