Traceability, or the ability track down the originator of a particular piece of content or message, is at the center of India’s debate around rules for online platforms and communications providers.
In late 2018, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTy), proposed amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules under the Information Technology Act. Among the proposed changes is a demand for traceability, which would “enable tracing out of such originator of information on its platform.” The amendment would make the online platform or provider liable for content posted by their users, if traceability is not provided. Early this year, nearly 30 cybersecurity and cryptographic experts from different parts of the world sent an open letter to MeiTy expressing concerns about the proposed amendments.
Traceability is likewise central to an ongoing case at the Madras High Court between several large online platforms and the government concerning law enforcement access to user-generated content.
In the course of the Global Technical Experts’ Meeting series held by the Internet Society in partnership with MediaNama, over 50 cyber security experts and policy experts in Europe, North and Latin America, Africa and Asia-Pacific examined the issue of message traceability in the Indian context.
This report, produced as a result of these deliberations, considers the technical feasibility of these proposals, and their wider implications to national security, and the safety of Internet users in India.