The draft Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Amendment Rules, 2018 to curb “unlawful content” on social media is a coherent step in sync with the Supreme court judgment in the Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) and Anr. vs Union Of India And Ors case on right to privacy.
Rule 3 of the draft highlights the importance of due diligence on online platforms and has made it mandatory for intermediaries to trace the “originator” of such unlawful content. Further the rule mandates that a user should not host, display, upload, modify, publish or share information which is racially or ethnically objectionable, promotes pedophilia, invasive of privacy etc.
The draft rules have entered at a time when the society is in a vomiting mode and there is no ethical values when it comes to writing or speaking on social media. There seems to be a moral collapse. Social media has failed and drifted from its original goal of closing distances and exposing us to diverse viewpoints. Instead, we have been polarized and find ourselves trapped within filter bubbles and echo chambers, where our experiences are dictated by algorithms.
However citizens should also be cautious and alert; so that these rules are not misused by the government to expand the scope for surveillance of citizens and curb democratic criticism and right to free speech. Social media should be a liberator of our minds and not a trap of rigid & narrower world view.