Govt to discuss IT Act changes on social media with advocacy groups on January 5

By: | Published: January 2, 2019 2:23 AM

The Ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) is meeting members of various advocacy groups related to internet freedom on January 5 to deliberate on the proposed changes to the IT Act which will make social media companies more accountable.

The government has maintained that while it is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens; instances of misuse of social media by criminals has brought new challenges which need to be tackled.

The Ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) is meeting members of various advocacy groups related to internet freedom on January 5 to deliberate on the proposed changes to the IT Act which will make social media companies more accountable.
Apart from the meeting, ministry officials will also take questions regarding the proposed amendments, on Twitter.

The government has initiated a process to amend the Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, in a manner that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Google would have to comply with its direction in providing information and assistance within 72 hours of a request made with regard to origin of any content deemed unlawful and to remove it.

The proposed changes have drawn strong reactions from proponents of internet freedom, terming the new provisions as “draconian” and taking the country in the realm of censorship. Some people have also linked the proposed changes in the IT Act and the home ministry circular allowing 10 agencies to probe online offences.

To allay the fears, the ministry plans to hold a roundtable discussion with all the stakeholders before finalising its final view on the matter.
January 15 is the last date for everybody including companies to send in their comments regarding the new rules to the ministry.
As per sources, the ministry has invited people from advocacy groups like Vidhi legal, Access Now, Software freedom, internet democracy, legally

India etc apart from people like lawyer Apar Gupta, Amba Kak, lawyer and policy adviser to Mozilla etc.

“As part of the consultation process, it is proposed to have a round table discussion on the various issues relating to making social media safer… The discussion will be followed by a Twitter Q&A,” the ministry said in its invitation to one of the stakeholders.

The government has maintained that while it is committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens; instances of misuse of social media by criminals has brought new challenges which need to be tackled.

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