Verification Of Indian Social Media Users Will Not Be Mandatory; Govt Pitches For User Privacy (Minister’s Statement)
The Minister of State for Electronic and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar told Lok Sabha that the government has no intention to make social media users’ verification compulsory.
In order to make sure the internet is open, safe, trusted and accountable to all, the government notified the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules in February last year.
Antisocial Behaviour Online
He added that they will continue to expand the scope of those kinds of rules.
Concerns were raised by Congress member Abdul Khaleque to which Chandrasekhar said that internet and tech have empowered people and transformed their lives as well as governance.
However, user harm, criminality and fake news was also on the rise.
He empathized with Khaleque’s concerns but making user verification mandatory is not the approach.
IT Rules Strong Enough
He said that the provisions made in the new IT rules “effectively” deal with issues of safety and trust online, and misuse of social media leading to law and order problems.
The rules require an intermediary to detect and identify the first originator of any criminal activity.
This has been challenged by some intermediaries in court but the government defended that anonymity cannot be a blanket one.
In response to a question about what prevents the government from making users’ verification mandatory, he said that the government wants to balance the issue of privacy along with safety and trust.
Government Powers In Taking Down Content
He also addressed the issue of hate crimes on social media and harassment of women belonging to minority communities.
He said that his ministry as well as other government departments are empowered to direct intermediaries to take down content and the offending accounts.
They can be punished on grounds of infringement upon the integrity and sovereignty of India or disturbance of public order.
He said that the government is “actively” involved with and responding to such issues.