Congress describes IT rules as “dire, drastic and draconian” in nature
The Congress has hit out at the Centre, saying the new IT rules were “dire, drastic and draconian in nature”, and argued the guidelines show that the government is suffering from big daddy syndrome.
Abhishek Singhvi, Congress spokesperson, said the new rules are a severe blow to the vibrant culture of discourse, deliberation and dissent in India. “What the Narendra Modi government seeks to implement today, without recall or modification and despite unanimous condemnation from all segments of civil and political society, is the government’s North Korean approach to free speech.”
The opposition highlighted that the problematic clause in guidelines is the direction to social media intermediaries to make provisions for identification of the first originator of the information. However, the government has maintained that platforms will be liable to disclose the originator of the message only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offense related to sovereignty and integrity of India.
“What is being brought into force from today is yet another attempt by the Modi government to capture and subordinate every pillar and agency of freedom of though and expression,” Singhvi said. “Dictatorial regimes, including the North Korean one, would blush at the brazenness with which the Modi government has done so.”
The Congress spokesperson pointed out that even previous proposals which seek to implement traceability in a manner which is supposedly compatible with end to end encryption have been shown to be vulnerable to spoofing where bad actors can falsely modify the originator information to frame an innocent person.
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“The grounds for such draconian directions have deliberately been kept delightfully vague, including Rule 4(2) which allows an order to be passed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order,” he said. “Under clause 3(d), all platforms have to remove any content deemed objectionable by the application, not by any court, but by the ministry of such broad thresholds as quoted above.”
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