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technology | IST

Govt seeks to make social media platforms accountable under law

Just days after the centre allowed different agencies and the Delhi Police to snoop on all computers, the government on Monday proposed draft rules under the IT Act and seeks to make social media platforms accountable under the law. The government has initiated public consultations with social media players on this regard and comments can be submitted by January 15.
The proposed rules will direct social media platforms to provide information and assistance within 72 hours of any government agency asking for it. It also direct social media platforms to trace originator of information on their respective platforms as sought by the government.
The proposal has implications on social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter. The rules may force social media platforms to break end-to-end encryption.
According to the proposed rules, social media platforms have to remove access to "unlawful acts" on receipt of orders from an appropriate government agency. It also mandate online platforms to deploy automated tools and techniques for identifying and removing or disabling access to unlawful information or content.
The order by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) authorised 10 central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as the Delhi Police to "intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer".
Last week, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) authorised 10 central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as the Delhi Police to "intercept, monitor and decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer".
Many fear that the government's decision will have serious implication on freedom of speech.
While the opposition has opposed the order accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of turning India into a "surveillance state", the BJP-led Central government has defended the decision citing national security and claiming that the order was a mere repetition of the rules passed during the UPA regime in 2009.