‘No free pass for intermediaries,’ appeared to be the general sentiment pervading the first public consultation on the proposed amendments to the IT Rules, 2021 held yesterday. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) took particular note of unnamed intermediaries that have not fully complied with the IT Rules, 2021, spotlighting their 'refusal' to take action on harmful content on their platforms citing ‘safe harbour’ obligations. Why it matters: Stakeholders aired their initial questions and concerns with the Rules with the Ministry yesterday. MeitY's responses shed light on its current outlook on all intermediaries operating in India's Information and Technology sector, i.e., they must comply with Indian platform regulation laws. Released on June 6th, the proposed amendments to the IT Rules, 2021, aim to curb the harms of Big Tech and improve user grievance redressal. In the same breath, they have raised concerns for both users of the Internet and stakeholders across India’s Information and Technology sector. As MediaNama has previously reported, who they apply to remains unclear in the draft. The proposed changes may also spur censorship by intermediaries—including social media companies. A newly formed redressal Committee may result in overt government influence over speech online. In yesterday's meeting, the Ministry repeatedly referred to intermediaries’ non-compliance with the IT Rules—leading to increasing complaints from users on faulty grievance redressal mechanisms. Describing the Rules as ‘part advocacy and part rule-making,' the Ministry added that it hopes the rules will ensure compliance by intermediaries. MeitY stated that the Rules move away…
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