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  • India is enforcing new rules that affect popular online platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

  • The rules allow for greater government oversight of content on these platforms and make them liable for any content deemed harmful.

  • But critics argue these will have a chilling impact on a constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression and also privacy.

  • Welcome to the Energy is one of India's most popular YouTubers and a leading voice.

  • When it comes to political satire in the online space, he is thriving as a content creator for a young digital audience.

  • He started his YouTube channel called The Day's Pug, or The Patriot to talk about social and political issues.

  • Over the years, he has built up a team and a strong presence on all social media platforms, Banerjee says.

  • The digital landscape has given independent voices like his own a free space to express themselves on a wide range of issues.

  • But now he is alarmed.

  • The Indian government recently announced a new set of information technology rules it can now more strictly regulates social media content, digital news and streaming giants such as Netflix.

  • These platforms are expected to regulate themselves more and also set up a system to address complaints about their content.

  • The government says it wants to prevent what it calls the misuse of these platforms.

  • I completely agree that news can be misused.

  • Uh, it could create to law and order problems, and there should be a set of guidelines for people who are doing news on social media completely understand that.

  • But why were the wordings left so convoluted?

  • Why is it that it has been left so open ended that anybody who is a commentator who makes a video on published information also is liable to these rules and regulations?

  • So it is about controlling the narrative of what people are talking about.

  • Nickel Power, a digital rights activist and news editor, shares these concerns.

  • He says existing laws already apply to the digital space and that the government is just trying to crack down on content it doesn't like.

  • The most important aspect of these regulations is the imposition of a particular section in the Indian Information Technology Act, which allows the government of India to issue orders to censor content so they can block certain content for news and kind of prez entities, which they did not have the power to do before these rules came about.

  • But there are others who have welcomed these rules.

  • Venture capitalists Mohandas Pai says these regulations are the need of the hour to break what he calls the tyranny of digital giants and to protect users.

  • If you look at social media today, there are very powerful digital monopolies.

  • If you look at detailed news media, many of them have an ideological stand.

  • They published defamatory articles.

  • They publish fake narratives, etcetera, and where are the traditional media are subject to government controller rules, Digital media or not?

  • Banerjee believes these rules give the government disproportionate powers and that now the digital space for creators like him is shrinking even when it comes to content like satire, satire is all about putting.

  • The facts may be rubbing people a little the wrong way, but unfortunately in India, sarcasm and satire is taken personally.

  • So either we see ourselves drumming down our content or we see ourselves fighting cases in courts or we see ourselves spending some time in jail.

  • But that's where we're headed.

  • Manager says he will not stop making his show but he knows that he could one day be in the line of fire for his content.

  • For more on this, I'm joined from Delhi by thank my saying.

  • He's a lawyer for the nonprofit Internet Freedom Foundation that advocates online freedom in India than my.

  • The government says that these new laws are required to fight the spread of fake news, for example, or revenge pornography on the Internet.

  • I mean, that sounds like a reasonable argument, doesn't it?

  • Well, first of all, thank you for having me, and you're right.

  • There is a reasonable argument, the stated objective, or to fight fake news and revenge, pornography and all of these things.

  • Um, that's absolutely perfectly fair.

  • And that's reasonable.

  • And we agree with the intentions here.

  • Um, but we're concerned that the rules go far beyond that, and they also end up regulating entities that don't have a lot to do with this.

  • For example, voted platforms which are not necessarily very closely connected with the rise of fake news or revenge pornography like Netflix of time.

  • We'll speak about that in a minute, but then I'd like to focus on the first part of the company's where This does apply, for example, social media companies.

  • Now India is a huge market for social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

  • For example, how do these new rules impact social media users of, say, Facebook in India, Right?

  • Uh, so these rules, they give the government a much greater level of control over social media intermediaries like Facebook, instagram, even WhatsApp than the government exercised before.

  • Um, they give the government white powers for issuing takedown orders.

  • Um, even more than was available with the government before and in the event of, um, these intermediaries not complying with the government's orders, they could be a range of punishments.

  • Um, including the intermediaries such as what?

  • Uh, sorry, Facebook or Twitter could be liable themselves for the content that's posted on these websites now.

  • That's a very worrying development, because we expect.

  • And we were concerned that this will cause, um, a chilling effect on fundamental rights to speech and expression and the access to information to the citizens of India.

  • But shouldn't the social media companies be responsible?

  • Somebody has to be held accountable for any harmful content that does come on to these platforms, shouldn't they?

  • So I absolutely agree with you that, um I think they're absolutely It is necessary to combat fake news and a lot of things, but, um, I think they're they're balance needs to be struck between taking down illegitimate, um, forms of expression and protecting legitimate forms of expression.

  • Uh, and speech.

  • Um, and we're concerned that these rules do not presently in in their current form, strike that balance.

  • Um, appropriately, Do you have similar concerns for the O.

  • T.

  • T platforms?

  • Essentially the so called over the top platforms Platforms that offer entertainment such as Amazon, Netflix are online news portals, for example?

  • Yes, Absolutely.

  • Um, we're going to put aside arguments relating to the constitutionality of these rules and the manner in which these rules were passed by the government, and we will focus for the moment just on the content of the rules themselves.

  • Um, in the in the second half of the rules, they discussed the regulations relating to OD D platforms and digital news platforms.

  • What these rules have done essentially is that they've created a three D R oversight mechanism over the content that is posted on all platforms and on digital news media platforms where the first year is.

  • These platforms themselves will have a grievance addressing mechanism and in the second year, while it is framed as a self regulatory mechanism, where, UM where these entities will get together and they will form a self regulatory body from amongst themselves.

  • The government exercises a great amount of control over the second year because the government is retains final approval over the appointments that are in this self regulatory body and in the third year it's the government, it said.

  • The third year is an oversight mechanism committee which comprises of officers um of various ministries of the central government and is headed by the secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

  • Now what this three d a mechanism that have just distribute does is that it retains final approval and final say over what sort of content can be or cannot be hosted by Utd platforms such as Netflix and prime or digital news media websites.

  • Um, which which we think is very dangerous then by saying we leave it there for the time being.

  • But thank you so much for joining us from Delhi.

  • Thanks very much.

India is enforcing new rules that affect popular online platforms such as Netflix and Amazon, and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

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Fears of censorship grow amid India's implementation of new internet regulations | DW News

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/17
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