Reiterating its stand that the new IT rules do not infringe the right to privacy and the freedom of expression, the government on Wednesday told Parliament that there is no proposal to review them.
The Centre notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 on February 25, superseding the erstwhile Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.
In a written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrashekhar said that these rules were a result of public consultations, comments and suggestions received during stakeholders’ meetings and are used in bringing accountability of these intermediaries to their users.
“There is no proposal with ministry to review the rules,” he said. The rules also prescribe additional due diligence to be followed by significant social media intermediaries.
“Freedom of speech and expression is a constitutionally guaranteed right to citizens under Article 19(1) with restraints as stated in Article 19(2). These fundamental rights cannot be infringed by anybody,” he said.
In response to a question on what action is taken in case the rights are violated, the minister said that the action is taken by appropriate governments and law enforcement agencies.
Several concerns have been raised over the possibilities of impact on the rights to the freedom of speech and privacy post the implementation of these norms. In another response, the minister also said that there is no proposal to repeal the new rules.
The rules led to major controversy as micro-blogging platform Twitter was initially reluctant to abide by some of the norms which led to a major showdown, with then Electronics and IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, accusing the platform of gross violation of norms.
However, Twitter has now complied with the contentious norms including appointment of a grievance officer in the country. Other significant social media platforms had already complied with the regulations.