India’s permanent mission at the United Nations (UN) has indicated that the new IT rules are meant to “empower ordinary users of social media” and these were finalised only after holding appropriate discussions with civil society and other stakeholders in 2018.
“Permanent Mission of India would like to notify that The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) undertook broad consultations in 2018 with several stakeholders, including individuals, civil society, industry associations,” The mission told the rapporteurs adding, “It also invited public comments to prepare draft rules.”
The statement was in response to the letter by three rapporteurs of the Special Procedures Branch of the Human Rights Council sent to the government on June 11 highlighting concerns over the new IT rules, 2021.
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India’s Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 in the current form do not go with international human rights norms, Rapporteurs had mentioned in the letter.
“We would like to recall that restrictions to freedom of expression must never be invoked as a justification for the muzzling of any advocacy of multiparty democracy, democratic tenets and human rights,” the Rapporteurs said in the communication.
Responding to the statement, the Indian mission conveyed that the “IT rules were designed to empower social media users”.
“The rules are made to empower ordinary users of social media,” it further said. “The victims of abuse at social media platforms shall have a forum for addressing their grievances. The IT rules have been finalised after due discussion with several stakeholders.”
It further said that the enactment of new rules was needed due to the widespread concerns about issues regarding abuse of social media and digital platforms such as recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, incitement of violence, public order, the spread of disharmony, financial frauds etc.