BIF for comprehensive framework to address digital age issues

PTI| New Delhi

Updated: 30-03-2023 19:01 IST | Created: 30-03-2023 18:22 IST

A new report by Broadband India Forum (BIF) mooting suggestions for the proposed Digital India Act has underlined the need for improved institutional frameworks to deal with cybersecurity, establish processes for oversight of surveillance, enable fairer content curation decisions and grievance redressal.

As the country moves forward on the Digital India vision, it becomes imperative that the proposed Digital India Act (which will replace IT Act) promotes trust in the digital ecosystem.

BIF noted that this requires careful balancing of multiple interests such as national security and public order, online safety, protection of fundamental rights, and promoting innovation.

In the report, Rishab Bailey, Visiting Research Fellow, XKDR Forum, highlighted how they have examined the proposed law in how it dealt with four focus areas -- online censorship, intermediary liability, surveillance, and cyber security.

''An important takeaway was the need for improved institutional frameworks to be created – whether to deal with cyber security, establish processes for oversight of surveillance, or indeed, enable fairer content curation decisions and grievance redressal,'' according to BIF release.

This move is aimed at ensuring that India has a modern and comprehensive legal framework that is capable of addressing the challenges of the digital age.

BIF President T V Ramachandran noted that India boasts of being the world's largest digitally connected democracy, with over 850 million online users.

''So, the need for a robust law provision to safeguard the evolving online landscape becomes a priority. We await the well-articulated evolvable digital law to replace the two-decade-old IT Act,'' Ramachandran said.

The report observed that the present intermediary liability framework ''incentivises censorship of content''.

''We suggest revision of the Section 79 framework to better delineate obligations of different types of intermediaries, ensure processes for take-down of content follow principles of natural justice, and narrow tailoring of due diligence related provisions,'' said the BIF-commissioned study, prepared by XKDR Forum.

It also recommended adopting a co-regulatory framework for content moderation to avoid the problems arising from private censorship as well as excessive government interference in the digital ecosystem.

The report said that the provisions in the IT Act pertaining to censorship and blocking were framed in an era when the digital ecosystem was not as pervasive as today and before the use of social media platforms exploded.

''We therefore recommend...revising Section 69A of the IT Act to remove the government's power to block access to online content because it is 'expedient' to do so in the interest of national security or public order...The creation of an independent and neutral body (such as an ombudsman) to adjudicate on blocking requests. In the alternative, blocking decisions made by the executive apparatus must be subject to judicial oversight as a matter of course,'' BIF report said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Rishab BaileyDigital IndiaBroadband India ForumXKDR ForumSection 69ARamachandranIndiaSection 79Digital India ActResearch Fellow

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