UN : India’s IT rules don’t conform to global rights norms
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NEW DELHI: UN Special Rapporteurs have written to the Indian government saying that India’s Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, in their current form, do not conform with international human rights norms.
They also “recalled” in a report that restrictions to freedom of expression must never be invoked as a justification for the muzzling of any advocacy of multi-party democracy, democratic tenets and human rights. The report also said consultations with relevant stakeholders on the issue are essential in order to ensure the “final text is compatible with India’s international legal obligations”. The observations were made in Mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
The report said as a global leader in technology innovation, India has the potential to develop a legislation that can place it at the forefront of efforts to protect digital rights. However, the substantially broadened scope of the Rules is likely to do just the opposite, it said.
“We would therefore encourage the government to take all necessary steps to carry out a detailed review of the Rules and to consult with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society dealing with human rights, freedom of expression, privacy rights and digital rights”, the report said.
“We understand the new Rules were issued under the Information Technology Act of 2000 and therefore, were not subject to parliamentary review or open for consultation with stakeholders. We believe such consultations with relevant stakeholders are essential in order to ensure the final text is compatible with India’s international legal obligations, in particular with Articles 17 and 19 of the ICCPR,” it added.
Don’t need lectures from US cos on free speech: Prasad
Union law and telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated at an online lecture on Saturday that the guidelines issued by the Centre for social media companies came after a direction from the Supreme Court, adding that the instructions were essential to stop “misuse” of social media.
He also warned Twitter that India “does not need lectures on freedom of expression” from profitable American corporations and operating in India implies obeying Indian law.