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IT rules should balance security with furthering rights, says study

The Information Technology Rules of 2021, which the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is taking a relook at, should strike a balance between “furthering fundamental rights in the digital realm, ensuring user safety and security, and holding intermediaries accountable,” tech policy group The Dialogue and the Internet and Mobile Association of India said in a report on Monday.

The Regulatory Impact Assessment Study of the IT Rules of 2021, jointly conducted by The Dialogue and IAMAI, noted that the safe harbour protection for intermediaries must be accorded the broad immunity provided to them as per a Supreme Court judgment in the Shreya Singhal vs the Union of India case.

“The attempt to reimagine the IT Act must entail the alignment of the intermediary liability regime with the jurisprudence established by the Supreme Court of India and global best practices. This entails that the standard of ‘actual knowledge’ prescribed in the Shreya Singhal case is adhered to, and that no criminal responsibility is imposed on employees of the intermediaries in adherence to the global best practices,” according to the report.

Key stakeholders, including three-fourths of the intermediaries, have said that mandates under Part 2 of the IT Rules might create an entry barrier and impact ease of doing business in the country, the study said.

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