Dear Government, Please Go Back to the Drawing Board

Shri. P.Rajeeve, MP representing Kerala in the Rajya Sabha has moved a statutory motion to get the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) 2011 annulled.This motion has been admittedand will be coming up before the Rajya Sabha soon. We thank Shri.P.Rajeev who took a keen interest in this issue by participating in discussionsinsideandoutsidethe parliament, spent time in understanding SFLC.in's submissions given to him explaining the need for moving an annulment and filed this motion.

The motion is reproduced below:

STATUTORY MOTION

The following Motion given notice of by Shri P.Rajeeve, M.P. has been admitted in the following form:

"That this House resolves that the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 issued under clause (zg) of sub-section (2) of Section 87 read with sub-section (2) of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 published in the Gazette of India dated the 13th April, 2011 vide Notification No. G.S.R 314(E) and laid on the Table of the House on the 12th August, 2011, be annuled; and

That this House recommends to Lok Sabha that Lok Sabha do concur on this Motion."

Why Annulment?

The Intermediary rules have resulted in a mechanism whereby intermediaries like Google and Facebook receive protection from legal liability in return for trading away the freedom of expression and privacy of users. The rules require the intermediaries to initiate action for taking down the content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint. The rules also require the intermediaries to provide the Government agencies information of users without any safeguards.

 

The rules in the current form are ultra-vires of the parent Act and are also violative of the Constitution of India. The rules violate the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to privacy of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution of India. The rules are also ambiguous and arbitrary. The rules are disjointed, legislate on disparate areas and are beyond the rule-making power of the Government. The piecemeal drafting of various important issues clubbed together under one heading make it impossible to amend the rules and come with anything which clear, workable and operational either for the public or the Industry. Thus, leaving annulment as our only option. The Government needs to introduce new rules which are in line with the parent act, the Constitution as well as other legislations. This can be achieved by holding a true multi-stakeholder discussion. The Government while coming out with new rules should restrict themselves to prescribing guidelines for the intermediaries in relation to their duties as laid down by the parent act

The following documents explain the issue in detail:

FAQ on IT Intermediary Rules eBook - "Intermediaries, users and the law - Analysing intermediary liability and the IT Rules "

We appeal to everyone to petition their parliamentarians to support the motion.

Links to media stories on the rules:

Concern over impact of Internet control rules on free speech

India Puts Tight Leash on Internet Free Speech

Indian web rules risk curbing info flow-Google India Asks Google, Facebook to Screen User Content Indian Govt. Readies Battle Against "Offensive" Content on Web Google, Facebook fight offensive content lawsuit New rules reinforce Internet control and surveillance That’s the unkindest cut, Mr Sibal