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Notification of the Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018 is likely to be completed by January 15, 2020, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, submitted earlier this morning. The updated draft of the Intermediary Guidelines is currently under discussion within the ministry. The affidavit was filed by Ajay Prakash Sawhney, the MeitY Secretary. The Intermediaries Guidelines were last notified on April 13, 2011, called Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.

The Supreme Court had directed the Ministry on September 24 to submit an affidavit giving definite timeline about notifying the rules as it heard Facebook’s transfer petition. The Court had directed the Ministry to submit the affidavit by October 15.

What will happen in the next three months?

As per the affidavit, four steps have to be completed for the notification of the rules:

  1. Approval of the draft rules by IT Minister R.S. Prasad
  2. Vetting of draft by Ministry of Law and Justice
  3. Approval of updated draft by MeitY
  4. Notification of New Intermediary Rules by MeitY

Increased access to internet necessitates new intermediary liability rules: MeitY

  • Social media use has become more common in India because of “lower internet tariffs, availability of smart devices and last-mile connectivity”
  • Internet as potent tool to cause “unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity”
  • On July 26, 2018, changes to the Intermediaries Guidelines Rules, 2011, were announced in the Rajya Sabha “to make intermediaries more liable towards the content that is published, transmitted, etc. on their platform.”

Timeline of Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules 2018

July 26, 2018: Decision to revise Intermediaries Guidelines Rules, 2011 announced in Rajya Sabha

December 24, 2018: Draft Information Technology Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 released for public comments by January 31, 2019

  • 171 comments (650+ pages) were received by the ministry and published on February 4, 2019, for further consultation by February 14, 2019.

July 31, 2019: Inter-ministerial consultations held with Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Women and Child Development, and Ministry of Commerce

August 2019: Comments received from stakeholder ministries

October 2019: Updated draft under discussion in MeitY

Dive Deeper: Facebook Transfer Petition | WhatsApp Traceability Case