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IT rules don’t contravene freedom of speech and expression

Constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, are not threatened by the Information Technology (IT) Act and the IT Rules, 2021, said Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in a written response to a query posed by MP Asaduddin Owaisi in the Lok Sabha, on Wednesday.

In order to deal with new and emerging issues in cyberspace, the government has proposed to further update part II of the IT Rules, 2021, he added.

Earlier in June, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had proposed an amendment to IT rules through public consultation. The ministry suggested that a publication consultation would provide additional avenues for grievance redressal apart from courts and also ensure that the constitutional rights of Indian citizens are not transgressed by any Big-tech platforms.

“Government policies and rulemaking are committed to ensure an open, safe and trusted and accountable Internet for its users,” Chandrasekhar said in the written statement. “As Internet access continues to rapidly expand in India, new issues related to the above commitments also keep emerging. To deal with such new and emerging issues, as well as to keep pace with the evolving cyberspace, the government has proposed to further update the part-II of the IT Rules, 2021.”, he added.

The minister emphasised on the fact that the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021 or the IT Rules, 2021 were formulated to ensure that intermediaries including social media platforms are held accountable to their users.

“As per the IT Rules, 2021, the online intermediaries including Social media intermediaries have been mandated to develop a robust grievance redressal system for their users,” Chandrasekhar explained. “They are also expected to remove any unlawful content as and when brought to their knowledge either through a court order or through a notice by appropriate government or its authorized agency.” They are also expected to act on any information violative of their policies as and when it comes to their knowledge. Businessworld

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