How will the new IT rules impact internet usage in the country?
The Indian government has changed the Information Technology rules which will have an impact on internet users. The digital space is no longer as free and available for people as it used to be as the center will be the top body monitoring your internet functioning.
This is the first big step towards regulating big tech platforms in the country by the government. The intermediary guidelines released by the centre have some limitations as far as usage of the internet services is concerned.
The government, with the introduction of the new IT act, will be able to regulate digital news platforms and OTT content providers, which will hamper the transparency of the two mediums directed towards its audience. The draft will increase the censorship and reduce the privacy of a user.
There are three major changes in the service regulations targeting the OTT and news media platforms. “Code Of Ethics And Procedure And Safeguards In Relation To Digital/Online Media” which shall apply on “applicable entities” is one of the clauses that is the problem with the regulation.
The people or agencies included in this area publishers of news and current affairs content. The structure sees a three-tier structure for observance and adherence to the code released in the draft. There is Level I where the self-regulation by the applicable entity, which is followed by Level II and Level III that includes oversight mechanism by the central government.
This indicates that the government has all the control over the activities of the content creators online. The whole mechanism has been created without much clarity on the legislative aspect or backing. The top authorities will perform functions similar to that of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for television regulations.
For instance, with the draft being enacted, the center has the power to censor apology scrolls while also blocking the content on display. Regulations on the ITT platforms are potential harm to the human rights of users and the liberty of the content creators. Imagine the case with the web series Tandav, which was released on Amazon Prime.
The whole web series was surrounded by the communal angle with political party leaders demanding for the content to be taken down. With the new regulations in place, such ‘controversial’ content will never see a space in these OTT platforms.