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Exclusive: MeitY to finalise Intermediary Liability rules amendment by month end

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is likely to finalise amendments to the Intermediary Liability Rules by the end of July or the beginning of August, multiple industry sources have confirmed to MediaNama. According to some of these sources, the new rules are likely to retain the demand for traceability from platforms (i.e. WhatsApp) by government agencies, and will drop the requirement for proactive monitoring and takedowns. On being contacted by MediaNama, a MEITY official declined to comment. Called the Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018 under the IT Act, 2000, the rules were first put out for public consultation in December 2018. The rules place more responsibility on platforms for what their users do on it, with the presumable aim to make platforms accountable for harmful content online. The rules have received widespread criticism for infringing upon user privacy, being blunt and disproportionate, and encouraging surveillance, among other things. A global coalition of internet businesses, Asia Internet Coalition, had said that the draft rules disregard the principles upheld by its parent IT Act, 2000. Moreover, the demand for traceability meant that platforms like WhatsApp will have to break end-to-end encryption to hand over data to government agencies. Internet Freedom Foundation had pointed out that the rules are in violation of the Supreme Court's judgment in Shreya Singhal. The rules have gone through a consultation process which had both comments and counter comments, and came after months of the IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad calling on WhatsApp to provide traceability…

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