New IT rules, Privacy, Social media rules, TM Krishna

TM Krishna is a well-known Carnatic music vocalist from Tamil Nadu.

The Madras High Court on June 10 issued a notice to the Ministry of Electronics and IT and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to respond in three weeks to a petition challenging the new IT rules.

The petition was filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) on behalf of TM Krishna, a Carnatic music vocalist from Tamil Nadu. The matter will be heard in four weeks.

New IT rules

The new rules insisted on these platforms appointing a resident grievance officer, chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person. They also mandated significant social media intermediaries (with over 50 lakh users) like Facebook, and Twitter to have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile application or both.

Swift grievance redressal mechanism within 15 days, active monitoring of harmful content using automated tools, and removal of/disabling access to disturbing content were also part of the mandate. They were also required to publish a compliance report on the same on a monthly basis.

Petition

The petition challenging these rules was filed on June 7 against the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

The petition stated that the private intermediaries are vested with excessive power to shape up what is permitted and not. “In the face of potential criminal liability, with business concerns in mind, these private bodies will inevitably compromise values inherent in the idea of freedom of speech and expressions,” the petition read.

Krishna, in the petition, said these rules are in breach of his fundamental rights under Part III of the constitution, which deals with fundamental rights, and beyond the legal authority of the IT Act 2000.

Krishna also argued that the new IT rules will also undo the Shreya Singhal judgement, which ordered that intermediaries cannot be held liable for the content posted on their platform. The new IT rules will have the effect of “undoing this judgement by treating intermediaries as the goalkeepers of online content.”

The petition also pointed out the issues of using automated tools and traceability that could compromise privacy of citizens.

Madras High Court order

The IFF, in a blog, said that the division bench of the Madras High Court issued notice to two government organisation, which was accepted by an advocate representing the government. “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting have been provided 3 weeks to file their counter affidavit, and the matter will be heard after 4 weeks,” the blog said.


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