Source: This post is created based on the article “Safe harbour at risk: On the impact of the proposed Digital India Act, 2023”, published in The Hindu on 13th March 2023.
Syllabus Topic – GS paper 2 – Government policies and interventions for development in various sector
News: The proposed Digital India Act, 2023 is set to become the replacement of the obsolete IT Act, 2000.
Removal of the protection to digital intermediaries in the form of safe harbour clause, is one of the debates that is ongoing.
What steps are taken earlier to remove protection for intermediaries?
The government has increased the compliance burden on Internet intermediaries by IT Rules 2021 and its later amendments.
IT rules 2021 placed obligations on SMIs to ensure an open, safe and trusted internet. It provided users of social media and OTT platforms with a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievance. For this matter a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO) to be appointed, who should be a resident in India. Appeals were filed against the rules.
In Oct 2022 amendment to IT rules 2021 provided for government-appointed committees. It will adjudicate on an individual user’s appeals against moderation decisions of these intermediaries.
In January 2023, the IT Ministry proposed an amendment on the take down of social media/news content that has been marked as “fake” or“false” by the Press Information Bureau or any other government agency.
What are the concerns associated with digital India Act?
Requirements on intermediaries may become needlessly difficult and punitive.
Safe harbour provisions, in particular Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, 1996, has helped in development of internet. It should be taken into consideration. Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, 1996, that explicitly provided immunity to online services with respect to user-generated content.