India to tweak suggested content regulations to ease burden
NEW DELHI: India intends to amend proposed rules for policing digital content so the toughest measures apply only to big social networking companies, two government sources told Reuters, in a move that could give relief to other technology players fearful of the new regulations.
The first proposal would have forced all tech players, along with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, to deploy automated tools to test for unlawful content and to appoint an officer for”24×7″ coordination with law enforcement.
The rules are part of India’s wider efforts to handle disinformation and”fake news”. Since 2017, rumour-mongering on media has been blamed for mob attacks that killed 30 people.
However, the draft proposals, known as”intermediary guidelines” when they were released in December 2018, could have applied to a wide selection of technology firms including e-commerce players, cloud storage providers and telecoms companies.
India’s IT ministry is currently considering a two-tier systems – with stricter rules similar to the original proposals applying only to social media firms, said the two government sources, who declined to be named as the plans are still confidential.
“The challenge is largely with large messaging platforms, ones which enable interaction. Some of the requirements for non-social media firms were unrealistic,” one of the officials said.
India’s IT ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
The next government source said that using two separate layers of rules would mean that big social networking companies like facebook, WhatsApp and Chinese video program TikTok would continue to face stricter regulation, but tech firms like Amazon.com could breathe easier.
The official explained the proposed regulation for additional technology companies as”minimum” and “simple”, adding the principles would be finalised later this month.
India’s IT ministry has said stricter regulations were necessary to protect the nation’s security as the world wide web has emerged as a”potent instrument to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity”.
The original draft principles also said firms must”remove or disable access” to”unlawful” content within 24 hours, when asked by a government agency or through a court order. That specific requirement, however, would probably remain in the rules for both social media and other technology companies, the sources said.
Calling for new rules to be made public soon, the companies also said the timeline of 24 hours for eliminating content posed significant implementation challenges.