Govt’s Promise: New IT Rules Won’t Crush Free Speech; Unlawful Content Is The Target
Another news about the controversial new IT rules – the Government has promised that the new IT rules will not hamper free speech.
The government has stated that the rules are only for keeping unlawful content in check.
Read on to find out what the government has to say!
Counter Affidavit Filed By Government Defending New IT Rules
Counter affidavits have been filed by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) and the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) in the Madras High Court to defend the constitutional validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 or IT Rules.
The government is defending the new IT rules against two different petitions challenging the IT rules filed in HC by Carnatic vocalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee T M Krishna, and Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA), made up of 13 media outlets, along with journalist Mukund Padmanabhan.
The information technology ministry has stated that the new rules do not hamper freedom of speech and expression because there is no penalty on the users who post content in contravention of the IT rules.
However, such content will be removed or might even result in termination of user’s access by the intermediary. This can be challenged by the user under the grievance redressal mechanism this has been set up in the IT Rules or by way of judicial review.
Content Will Be Removed If It Is Unlawful
The petition states, “In the absence of additional civil or criminal liability, mere removal of content or blocking of access of users vis a vis information which is in any case unlawful will not tantamount to creating a chilling effect on speech and expression.”
The affidavit has also stated that content will be removed only if it is unlawful. Also, no other executive other than the appropriate government or its agency will be able to issue an order for removal of content.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has now introduced the new draft of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, for social media platforms, OTT players & digital media. These include asking the social media companies to reveal the originator of a message or tweet.
The new IT rules were implemented with a motive to eliminate child pornography, rape on digital platforms, to report cases such as revenge porn and violation of privacy.