30 July, 2021

Indecent Proposals

Sibal’s actions may lead to IT Act nixing freedoms

Tribhuvan Tiwari
Indecent Proposals

If Kapil Sibal’s attempts to police net content fructify, it may even lead to a reversal of some of the forward-looking provisions of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000. The new proposal, for instance, will reverse Section 79 which protects intermediaries (websites and carriers) from being prosecuted or made liable for any objectionable content published. Says Pranesh Prakash, programme manager, Centre for Internet and Society: “Unfortunately, what Sibal says turns this upside down as they would now be held responsible for e-content.” Sibal wants to monitor content prior to publication.

While there are privacy concerns, any attempt to do real-time monitoring could pose serious legal complications. Says cyber law expert Pavan Duggal: “This proposition could be ultra vires of the Constitution which guarantees fundamental rights under Article 19, which is about freedom of speech and expression subject to reasonable restrictions.” And the reasonable restrictions for monitoring, blocking and interception...

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