85% of intermediaries say new IT rules will negatively impact ease of doing business, CIO News, ET CIO
From traceability of originator to maintaining a 5 million user threshold to be designated as a significant social media intermediary in India, industry stakeholders interviewed for the report expressed concern over several parts of the rules relating to information technology (guidelines for intermediaries and code of ethics for digital media). , 2021, introduced by the Ministry of IT in February last year.
The report, entitled “IT Rules, 2021: A Regulatory Impact Assessment Study”, by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and The Dialogue, recommends putting in place a progressive liability regime for intermediaries, introducing procedural safeguards to assist law enforcement, and promote a uniform and transparent content blocking regime.
On content takedown timelines, Rajya Sabha MP Dr Amar Patnaik said in a panel discussion that “takedowns should be graduated, cannot compare different forms of harm and put them in the same basket (regulatory)”.
In the latest draft, the IT Department reiterated that resident complaints officers at a social media intermediary must, within 24 hours, acknowledge receipt of any user complaints related to content removal, suspension , blocking and deleting the user’s account, fixing the problem within 72 hours and eliminating it within 15 days.
Industry stakeholders interviewed during the study expressed concerns about the infeasibility of sender traceability mandated by IT Rules 2021, with the many ramifications potentially imposing personal liability on compliance officers and the impact that due diligence requirements will have on barriers to entry and the ease of doing business.
A majority of intermediaries and cybersecurity experts said it was technically impossible to introduce traceability on end-to-end encrypted platforms without breaking the encryption technology itself.
“The majority of intermediaries noted that in a country like India with a population of 1.3 billion, setting a threshold of 5 million users to be designated as an important social media intermediary is quite onerous to an economic point of view,” the report said.
While the government released the FAQs last year, which was a step in the right direction, a detailed standard operating procedure is to be released by the government explaining the criteria for calculating the threshold and guiding the power of the executive to mandate any intermediary to comply with the additional requirements of due diligence mandates, the report notes.
“The majority of intermediaries dealing with large amounts of user-generated content noted the need to categorize takedown orders by degree of harm in order to allow sufficient time to assess the authenticity of requests,” according to the findings.
The draft reposted by the IT Department also revealed plans to form an appeal board that can overrule content moderation decisions by big tech companies like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
In the republished Draft Amendments to the IT Rules 2021, the Ministry of IT (MeitY) said the new amendment “will not impact any start-up or growth-stage Indian businesses or startups”.
This relieves local platforms such as Dailyhunt, ShareChat and Koo.
The Department of Computing sought public comment on the draft proposal within 30 days.
IT rules also require major social media platforms to help the government trace the author of posts in specific cases.
“The intermediary must respect the rights granted to citizens under the constitution,” reads the draft.