Given the Indian government’s impending commitment to the Supreme Court to notify the intermediary liability amendments by January 15 2020, global internet organizations Mozilla, GitHub, and Cloudflare have penned an open letter to the Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad. The letter highlights significant concerns with the rules and calls for improved transparency by allowing the public an opportunity to see a final version of these amendments prior to their enactment.
An excerpt from the letter is extracted below, and the full letter is attached and available online:
“On behalf of a group of global internet organisations with millions of users in India, we are writing to urge you to ensure the planned amendments to India’s intermediary liability regime allow for the internet to remain an open, competitive, and empowering space for Indians. We understand and respect the need to ensure the internet is a safe space where large platforms take appropriate responsibility. However, the last version of these amendments which were available in the public domain suggest that the rules will promote automated censorship, tilt the playing field in favour of large players, substantially increase surveillance, and prompt a fragmentation of the internet in India that would harm users while failing to empower Indians.
The current safe harbour liability protections have been fundamental to the growth of the internet in India. They have enabled hosting platforms to innovate and flourish without fear that they would be crushed by a failure to police every action of their users. Imposing the obligations proposed in these new rules would place a tremendous, and in many cases fatal, burden on many online intermediaries - especially new organizations and companies. A new community or a startup would be significantly challenged by the need to build expensive filtering infrastructure and hire an army of lawyers.
Given your government's commitment to the Supreme Court of India to notify these rules by January 15, 2020, it is vital that the public has the opportunity to see a final version of these amendments to help ensure that they assuage the concerns which have been voiced by a wide variety of stakeholders during the public consultation. We appeal for this increased transparency and we remain committed to working with you to achieve the broader objective of these amendments while allowing Indians to benefit from a global internet.”