The contours of the social media law, which are being discussed in the ministry, may also expand to include user harm regulation and response, definitions and regulation of high-risk artificial technology.
New Delhi: Growing cybersecurity challenges, child safety and content moderation are among the aspects raised in a preliminary discussion paper circulated in the ministry of electronics and information technology regarding the need for an international standard law for social media companies, officials familiar with the matter said.
The contours of the law, which are being discussed in the ministry, may also expand to include user harm regulation and response, definitions and regulation of high-risk artificial technology and privacy concerns surrounding new equipment such as wearable devices. These are among the challenges outlined in the discussion paper, a copy of which has been reviewed by Hindustan Times.
The move comes amid a series of charges against Meta (formerly known as Facebook) by a former employee in UK stating that the social media giant stokes online hate and extremism, fails to protect children from harmful content and lacks any incentive to fix these problems
“It is recognized that while technology and internet have many advantages, several challenges in user harm, security, child safety have emerged that need legislative response,” the discussion paper states.
“It is time to look at the digital India legislative architecture differently — instead of more laws and more authorities — why not look at current laws, rules and institutions and see if we can pivot and transform them into being aligned to future needs of digital India, that is, global standard cyber laws,” it adds.
On November 26, Union minister for electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, had told HT that the Centre is deliberating a “global standard law” for social media companies to curtail user abuse. “For a country like India, where 800 million users are online, it becomes imperative to develop a safe and open cyberspace as the country moves towards a $5 trillion economy,” Chandrasekhar said then.
At present, the different laws that govern the technology sector in India include the Telegraph Act, the information technology act, the new intermediary guidelines, TRAI Act and sections of the IPC. The country’s first data protection law is also in the works, with the joint parliamentary committee examining the framework tabling its report in the winter session of Parliament.
“The IT Act and TRAI Act date back to the pre-internet, pre-digital India era,” states the discussion paper. “Current laws are rigid, inflexible, narrow and do not enable evolutionary policy making,” it says.