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UN Speech Rapporteurs say IT Rules violate rights principles; government response skips specifics

In a letter to the Indian government, the UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, privacy and right of the peaceful assembly said that the recently notified IT Rules 2021 "do not appear to meet the requirements of international law and standards related to the rights to privacy and to freedom of opinion and expression." The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 put in place sweeping regulations on social media companies, news websites and streaming services. The rapporteurs expressed "serious concern that some parts of their due diligence obligations may result in the limiting or infringement of a wide range of human rights." Both the rapporteur's letter and the Indian government's response are dated June 11, but appear to have only been made public over the weekend. Government shies away from addressing specific concerns The Indian government replied to the rapporteurs' response with an information note on the history of the IT Rules and a summary of its provisions. Here's what the rapporteurs said, and the government's response, if any. Consultation and broad scope Urge relook with stakeholder consultation: The letter at first urged the government to withdraw portions of the Rules and take a relook after stakeholder consultations. "Given the wide-ranging impact of social intermediary legislation on a range of human rights, they should be closely scrutinized and therefore, we urge your Excellency’s Government to undertaken wide consultations with all relevant stakeholders," the letter said. Government's response: "The Permanent Mission of India would [...] like to…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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