New Delhi: The Central government has begun fresh talks for a completely new IT law that will have greater scope and more provisions than the last, a report published by the India Express claims. The move comes months after amendments to the IT Act led to tech giants like Google and Facebook cry foul and approach courts to remove provisions they deemed restrictive and intrusive.
The new law will probably cover aspects like bitcoin, blockchain and the dark net.
"The old IT Act of 2000 was drawn up mainly keeping in mind prevention of simple fraud, blocking of websites and illegal content of different kinds that existed then. A lot has changed. It would not make sense to amend the old Act. We would rather introduce a new law to deal with present and future circumstances that may arise," said a senior government official as quoted by the Express.
Clear guidelines on online bullying, sexual harassment, morphing of photos, stalking etc. Would also be drawn up while keeping in mind how fast technology shifts and changes the officials claimed. In addition to this, the government is also seeking to impose greater responsibility on internet intermediaries as to the kind of content posted on their platform. This means they will have to work harder to remove content deemed as illegal, unsafe of promoting any kind of illegal or terrorist activity the officials said.
Another major change, which may also feature in the new Data Protection Law that is in the works, is a strict 'age gating policy, which will require the consent of parents when children sign up for social media websites. This plan has been opposed by social media intermediaries but officials said the Government wants to ensure that children below 18 are "protected and feel safe on the internet".
The IT Ministry's amendments had led to Google and Facebook approaching the courts whereby the Bombay and Madras High Courts had stayed parts of the provisions. Amongst the demands made by the government were the setting up of grievance committees, asking digital news media to follow the norms of the Press Council of India and Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act as well as ordering OTT platforms to classify their content into age-appropriate tiers. The Bombay High Court observed that the new rules are "manifestly unreasonable and go beyond the IT Act, its aims and provisions".
The Ministry had also asked these platforms to submit monthly reports on complaints received from users and action taken. A third requirement was for instant messaging apps to make provisions for tracking the originator of a message.