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Pre-drafting DIA consultations of MeitY with stakeholders on May 3

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) has called the second round of pre-drafting consultations with industry stakeholders and policy experts on the principles of the upcoming Digital India Act (DIA) on Wednesday, May 3 in New Delhi, sources said.

The ministry has been working on a draft Digital India Bill to replace India’s primary digital law Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 for addressing changing challenges created by the modern-day internet. The meeting to be held next week will revolve around finalising certain broad principles of the act, a government official said.

During the previous meeting on the new bill held in Bengaluru in March, representatives from the tech industry, big techs, startups, policy advocates and law experts discussed the definition and classification of internet intermediaries. The ministry had also invited written suggestions from the experts on their proposals for the bill.

However, the ministry has received very few suggestions in over one-and-half months after the meeting, said a source aware of the matter.

A presentation made by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the minister of state for electronics and Information Technology also proposed that the Digital India Act may include provisions on trade practices, choice, competition, online diversity, fair market access and ease of compliance for startups. Importantly, the meeting also discussed if there was a need to retain the safe harbour for intermediaries in the new legislation.

“The greater diversity and complexity of Internet platforms warranted a legitimate question: Should there be a safe harbour at all? And if there is a need for a safe harbour, who should be entitled to it? The whole logic of safe harbour was that I am a platform that has absolutely no power or control over the content that some other consumer creates on my platform,” had said in March.

He also emphasised that the new law should be principle-based and evolve through rules that can be updated to address “the tenets of Digital India — such as open internet, online safety and trust, accountability and quality of service, adjudicatory mechanism, and new technologies.”

According to government officials, this is the first time that industry stakeholders were being included in consultations of a bill even before releasing a draft bill. This will help the ministry with new perspectives and expertise to form a comprehensive bill, said an official who does not wish to be named. Business Standard

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