Blasting Modi govt over new IT rules, Kapil Sibal : ‘Comprehensive capture of media’

Former Union information technology minister and Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal blasted the government on Saturday for the latest amendments to the IT Rules, claiming it is a “comprehensive capture of media.”

On Friday, the government announced the regulations under which it would establish appeals panels to address complaints that users might have over choices made by social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram regarding the hosting of controversial content.

First, they captured the TV networks and now, they are going to capture social media platforms. It’s the comprehensive capture of media,” Sibal said.

“Taking a dig at the Centre, the former Congress leader said, “We are moving towards one code of conduct, one political party, one system of governance and no answerability to anyone.”

He added, “Safe for the government and unsafe for others, that’s what the policy of this government always has been… The only platform left for ordinary citizens was social media; when statements defamatory are made… people will be prosecuted.”

However, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the union’s minister of information technology, asserted that the revised IT rules will provide social media firms more explicit due diligence requirements to ensure that no illegal content or false information is placed on their platforms.

On the formation of three-member Grievance Appellate Committees (GACs), the minister said the move was necessitated as the government is aware of lakhs of messages from citizens where grievances were not responded to by social media firms despite complaints.

“That is not acceptable,” Chandrasekhar said at a briefing.

He added that the government wants social media companies to work as partners to ensure the interests of “digital nagriks” are ensured.

“The obligations of intermediaries earlier was limited to notifying users of rules but now there will be much more definite obligations on platforms. Intermediaries have to make efforts that no unlawful content is posted on the platform,” he said.

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