The All India Lawyers’ Union (AILU) demanded the withdrawal of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, terming it an undemocratic legislation that facilitates absolute surveillance, censorship and digital authoritarianism, violates privacy, personal liberty, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights of the users and scuttles the voices of dissent.
AILU national vice-president S. Rajendra Prasad and national secretary N. Srinivasa Rao stated in a press release that the Central government promulgated the rules in spite of objections raised by various civil society organizations, political parties and NGOs.
They alleged that an analysis of the rules illustrates a hidden agenda, which is to suppress peaceful expression of democratic dissent, with the support of social media intermediaries.
The AILU office-bearers said Rule 4 (2) – user and information traceability – empowers the government through enforcement agencies to act on social media intermediaries and break down the end-to-end encryption to trace the ‘first originators’. Indirectly, it permits recording and preservation of the communication and data against the wishes of the users. Communications can be opened and exposed in total violation of the right to privacy, they alleged.
Rule 5 – digital media regulation – enables the enforcement agencies to lock down the news websites and portals that do not comply with their orders. The government can resort to censorship thereby suppressing and crushing dissent and protests against its policies, they alleged.
The rule that provides for automated filtration becomes a tool for massive surveillance by the government in collaboration with the support of social media monopolies, and the user verification rule enables the social media entities to impose a user verification process with identity proofs such as Aadhaar numbers. It leads to commodification of the user data and control.
Source: Read Full Article