Laying the foundation for a future-ready digital India

Source– The post is based on the article “Laying the foundation for a future-ready digital India” published in The Hindu  on 27th June 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- Government policies and issues arising out of implementation

Relevance: Issues regarding Digital Technologies

News- .The Ministry of Electronics and IT has been actively organising consultations on the proposed “Digital India Bill” to build conceptual alignment on a new law that will replace India’s 23-year-old Information Technology (IT) Act.

What are the issues in the present IT Act?

The definition of Social Media Intermediaries” (SMIs) is so broad that it can encompass a variety of services such as video communications, matrimonial websites, email and even online comment sections on websites.

The rules also lay down stringent obligations for most intermediaries, such as a 72-hour timeline for responding to law enforcement asks.

By virtue of being licensed, intermediaries are treated like conventional social media platforms not only adds to their cost of doing business but also exposes them to greater liability without meaningfully reducing risks presented by the Internet.

The European Union’s Digital Services Act is probably one of the most developed frameworks for us to follow.

What are Focus areas for India?

What we need, is a classification framework that creates a few defined categories, requires intermediaries to undertake risk assessments and uses that information to bucket them into relevant categories.

One way to do this would be to exempt micro and small enterprises, and caching and conduit services from any major obligations.

Another way is to clearly distinguish communication services (where end-users interact with each other) from other forms of intermediaries (such as search engines and online-marketplaces).

Alternative approaches to curbing virality, such as circuit breakers to slow down content, could also be considered.

Metrics for risk assessment and appropriate thresholds could help create a regulatory environment that helps achieve the government’s policy goal of creating a safer Internet ecosystem, while also allowing businesses to thrive.

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