To make social media cos more liable, IT Act may see changes

The Ministry of Electronics and Info Know-how is trying to make adjustments to sure sections of the Info Know-how (IT) Act to make social media intermediaries, akin to Fb and Twitter, and over-the-top (OTT) platforms, akin to Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video, extra accountable for the content material shared by way of their platforms.

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A call on this regard has been finalised and could also be introduced by the federal government as quickly as subsequent week, senior authorities officers stated. On February 12, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Rajya Sabha that the federal government was working to carry new guidelines to make social media intermediaries extra conscious of the federal government’s instructions in addition to its regulation enforcement companies.

One of many main adjustments being checked out is to amend Part 79 of the IT Act to make on-line corporations “proactively trace, detect and prevent” illegal content material from being shared on their platforms.

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Part 79 of the IT Act protects social media intermediaries by giving them immunity from authorized prosecution for any content material posted on their platforms. Nonetheless, the safety offered fails if the federal government notifies the middleman that if “any information, data or communication link residing in or connected to a computer resource controlled by the intermediary is being used to commit the unlawful act and the intermediary fails to expeditiously remove or disable access to that material”.

“An intermediary cannot absolve itself of all responsibilities by claiming to provide just a service,” a senior authorities official stated.

One other key change, a senior official stated, can be for the middleman or the OTT platform to take away or disable entry to illegal content material both instantly or not later than 24 hours of “receiving actual knowledge in the form of a court order, or on being notified by the appropriate government agency.” The adjustments to the IT Act are being finished within the occasion of the confrontation between the federal government and Twitter. Officers, nevertheless, stated the adjustments have been additionally essential to “balance and check” the facility that such intermediaries wielded over residents.

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“Under the IT Act, the definition of an intermediary is very broad and covers nearly all platforms which upload, manage, or allow sharing of content. We may at a later stage also look at an umbrella body like TRAI to oversee all these platforms and manage other functions,” one other official stated.

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