The month of March saw significant shifts in internet policy and regulation in India, with the full impact of the IT Rules 2021 unfolding. The government also threw cryptocurrency businesses in a tizzy as its plans to ban private cryptocurrencies surfaced. We bring MediaNama subscribers a report on what has gone down in the past month. I. An Orbit Change: Information Technology Rules 2021 The IT Rules (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 were notified late in February. Although a major overhaul was not unprecedented, the rules, which are legally meant to regulate intermediaries, brought publishers of news and digital content into their fold. For the first time, digital news publications and streaming services have to abide by a self-regulatory framework, in which user complaints against their content can be bumped up to the central government. Moreover, the government has given itself the power to block content, a provision many suspect will create a chilling effect and prior restraint regime. Here is what we have learnt since the rules were passed. It was the Indian government’s paranoia about what digital news publications were reporting that prompted the digital media clampdown in the new IT Rules. A report by a group of ministers, which included RS Prasad and Prakash Javadekar, recognised the need to neutralise people writing against the government. The 26% cap on FDI in digital media was done to ensure that online media was not ‘biased’. Legacy media organisations lobbied the Indian government on how digital…
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