Mozilla, Editors Guild Crimson Flag India’s Muzzling Of Digital Media With New Tips

The IT rules of 2021 provide for a series of strict obligations for online platforms

The Editors’ Guild believes that the new rules may impose “inappropriate restrictions” on digital media

Mozilla’s political leader stressed that the rules will increase surveillance and encourage Internet fragmentation

Mozilla, editorial flag of the editorial staff India's mouth of digital media with new guidelines

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Saturday (March 6) raised concerns about the recent announcement of IT rules, which impose a multitude of stringent obligations on online platforms and provide a three-tier regulatory mechanism for online media.

The IT rules (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) 2021 can be roughly divided into three areas: Internet and social media intermediaries, digital messages and over-the-top streaming services. The 29-page document provides due diligence, complaint resolution, and self-regulation guidelines for these digital platforms that curate and broadcast content.

Even the Mozilla software community has raised concerns about the latest IT rules. Udbhav Tiwari, the company’s public policy advisor, stressed that these rules compromise end-to-end encryption, greatly improve surveillance, encourage automated filtering and fragmentation of the internet that will harm users. In a blog post, Tiwari stated that “the impact of these provisions will have a devastating impact on freedom of expression, privacy and security.”

The Editors Guild said the new rules may place “undue restrictions” on the digital news media and the media as a whole. In addition, the association expects that it will empower the union government to “block, delete or modify published messages anywhere in the country” without the judiciary overseeing it.

According to the rules, the government will shortly set up an Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC), composed of representatives from various ministries, to examine complaints about online content on the above-mentioned platforms. The committee will form the core of the oversight mechanism for digital media intermediaries.

The Editors Guild of India is concerned about the notification of the Information Technology Rules (Intermediation Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Digital Media) 2021.

– Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) March 6, 2021

The guild also said it was concerned about the central government’s lack of consultation with stakeholders before the new “sweeping” rules were put in place. In a letter dated March 5, 2021, the panel also called on the government to override the rules and hold meaningful consultations with all parties involved.

“The government must take note that, in the name of restricting unrestricted social media, it cannot overwhelm India’s constitutional guarantees for free media, which have been the cornerstone of our democracy,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of India asked the center to enact appropriate laws to prevent OTT platforms from checking pornography as the existing guidelines had no “teeth”. The Apex court asked the government to work out stricter laws for digital platforms.

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