The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) served notices asking for details of digital news publishers and OTT platforms under the Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 weeks after the Bombay High Court stayed key provisions of the rules, an RTI response received by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) revealed. According to IFF, a digital rights organisation, the development is surprising as significant portions of the rules have been challenged and stayed in court. In August and September 2021, the Bombay and Madras High Courts issued interim stay orders against the creation of a grievance redressal mechanism and a code of ethics to be compulsorily followed by media organisations as per the rules. "Rule 18 is not an end in itself but a means to an end. It is surprising that the government has gone ahead with the provision in spite of the grave constitutional concerns raised with the rules," Tanmay Singh, Litigation counsel at IFF told MediaNama. Collecting details under Rule 18 allows the government to regulate the media under the 3-tier grievance redressal mechanism set up by the IT Rules - which have been stayed and thus surprises the IFF, Singh told MediaNama. The Rules have been criticised and challenged in court for being unconstitutional and giving the government powers broad powers to censor the media. Ministry dithers on providing more details The MIB's response revealed that 2,100 digital news and OTT platforms submitted their details under the rules. However, on several other questions posed by IFF, the Ministry did not…
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