Centre relooks at 'safe harbour' provision for internet intermediaries in digital era

Bengaluru, March 9 (IANS) The Centre on Thursday presented the formal outline of the Digital India Act, 2023 where the government is mulling to remove the safe harbour provision for internet intermediaries.

Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar said the logic behind safe harbour “was that internet platforms have absolutely no power or control over the content that some other consumer creates”.

“But in this day and age, is that really necessary? Is that safe harbour required?” Chandrasekhar asked.

The safe harbour provision gives internet intermediaries legal immunity against content shared by users on the platforms. It was part of the old IT Act, 2000.

“The law should be a principles-based rule providing a framework with very sound principles that can then be used to develop rules in the future,” said the minister during a consultation with the stakeholders on the Digital India Act.

The proposed bill aims to replace the existing IT Act, 2000 and provide a strong framework for India’s ‘Techade’.

The minister said that fundamental speech rights cannot be violated by any platform.

An earlier amendment to the new IT Rules, 2021 said that social media platforms must respect free speech rights of the users.

The draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill would be among the initiatives under the broad Digital India Act — the others being National Data Governance Policy, amendments in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) related to cyber crimes and DIA rules.

“The Indian laws should be able to handle the rapid expansion of social media intermediaries,” said the minister.



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