September 24, 2020
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Rajya Sabha Debate

'Not In Consonance With The Best International Practices'

'Minister may like to review the entire framework of these rules to put these rules at par with the best international practices'

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'Not In Consonance With The Best International Practices'
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Speaking on the statutory motion for resolution that the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 be annulled.

Thank you very much, Sir. Considering the limitation of time, I have only a couple of points to make. The first and foremost, let me say, in principle, is, I am not opposed to the formulation of these rules to put restrictions which, I believe, are reasonable.

My first point really, Sir, to the hon. Minister is, these rules are not in consonance with the best international practices. If you look at the Report called Detailed Country-by-Country information on Internet censorship is provided by the OpenNet Initiative or Reporters Without Borders or Freedom House, all these Reports suggest that most of these restrictions in other countries are somewhat milder and somewhat narrower as has been defined under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of the US. So, the hon. Minister may like to review the entire framework of these rules to put these rules at par with the best international practices.

My second point really is, many of the words and terms which have been used, particularly in Article 3 of these rules, are ambiguous in nature, because these have not been defined either in the rules or necessarily in the parent Act.

My third point really is, in the application of these rules, they are not at par with the restrictions which are available on the other forms of media. So, it would be somewhat restrictive if only these rules are applicable to one particular form in which communication is being done and really not applicable to other forms. My fourth point really Sir, is, some of these restrictions could, the hon. Minister may like to consider, be in consonance with the provisions of Article 19(1) constituting an infringement of the Right of the Freedom of Speech.

The fifth point is, there is lack of transparency in relation to the application of these rules.

And, my last point really on this is, there is a presumption that all complaints which are filed for removal of offensive matter are necessarily correct. This is particularly sad when the person who has initially put it on the net is not being heard and action is taken unilaterally.

I would, therefore, end by saying that the hon. Minister may like to review all these things. And pending a review of this, send it to the Council which is mandatory and which can review the best international practice and bring it on the best footing for that.


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