'Misplaced, exaggerated': India rubbishes UN special branch's criticism on new IT rules
New Delhi/IBNS: India has described the concerns raised by a special branch of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as "misplaced, exaggerated and disingenuous".
It underscored that the country's Constitution guarantees free speech which is reinforced by an independent Judiciary and a robust media.
"The rules are designed to empower ordinary users of social media. The victims of abuse on social media platforms shall have a forum for redressal of their grievances," the Permanent Mission of India to the UN said in a letter.
India registered its response after the Special Procedures Branch of the UNHRC raised concerns over India's Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The UN special rapporteurs had said that the rules under the law do not confirm with the International Human Rights norms.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, they expressed "serious concerns" with certain parts of the legislation they claimed would curb free speech.
"We worry that intermediaries will over-comply with takedown requests to limit their liability, or will develop digital recognition-based content removal systems or automated tools to restrict content," they wrote.
Most of the social media platforms and messaging apps have been reluctant in implementing some aspects of the rules, especially the one related to the setting up of grievance redressal systems.
"The concern that the Rules may be misused deliberately to make a large number of complaints so as to overwhelm the grievance redressal mechanisms created by social media platforms is also misplaced, exaggerated, and disingenuous, and shows lack of willingness to address the grievances of the users of these media platforms while using their data to earn revenues," the Permanent Mission said in a brief information note on the IT rules.
Rubbishing the concerns, the government wrote it fully recognised and respected the right of privacy "the core element of an individual existence".
The new IT rules seek information only on a message that is already in circulation that resulted in an offence, it said responding to another issue raised by the UN officials.
"The Rules have framed in exercise of the statutory powers of the IT Act, fully taking into account the principles of reasonableness and proportionality," the letter said.
"The Permanent Mission of India requests that the enclosed information may be brought to the attention of the concerned Special Rapporteurs," it said.