Moderation’s broken but this isn’t the way to fix it

News: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MEITY) has released a fresh draft of the amendment to the Information Technology(IT) Rules 2021.

What are the draft new amendments to the IT Rules,2021?
Read here: Union Govt seeks fresh comments on Draft IT Rules
What are the issues associated with the draft amendments?

1) State oversight of moderation could open the doors for overreach and censorship, 2) There will be debates on free speech in social media as the state-appointed entity judging the contents, 3) Challenges with last year IT rules: Many of last year’s IT Rules were legally challenged and both the Bombay and Madras high courts have stayed provisions that asked digital news companies to comply with a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism headed by the government.

Note: India’s last year IT rules asked for messages to be traceable, for instance, which would technically require all chats decrypted.

What could be done?

The idea of self-regulation by platforms: Authorities worldwide have been trying to hold Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc, accountable for the spread of fake information. Globally, Facebook has an oversight board that has not achieved much. Their self-regulation addresses only a fraction of disputes between users and moderators.

India could have a pan-industry panel containing eminent Indian jurists and other such citizens known for their independence to oversee an arbitration team. Further, they should be equipped with resources and expertise to resolve a rising number of complaints.

Source: The post is based on the article “Moderation’s broken but this isn’t the way to fix it” published in the “Livemint” on 10th June 2022.

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