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Chandrasekhar rebuts Sibal's "capture of media" remark on IT rules, says Centre kept internet safe for 'digital nagrik'

New Delhi: Retorting to Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal's criticism of the new IT rules, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Sunday said that the Centre has ensured to keep the internet safe and trusted for 'digital nagrik'.
The government's notification on the amendment of Information Technology rules under which appellate panels will be set up for addressing grievances of users against social media platforms, triggered criticism from former Union information technology minister Kapil Sibal who on Saturday alleged that the government would prosecute those who will use defamatory statements. He had alleged that the new IT rules are the "comprehensive capture of media". Speaking to ANI, Sibal said, "First, they captured the TV networks & now they're gonna capture social media platforms. It's the comprehensive capture of media. We're moving towards one code of conduct, one political party, one system of governance & no answerability to anyone."
Following his remarks, the PIB fact-checked Sibal's statement in the interview to ANI and termed his claims as "misleading".
Hitting out at Sibal's remarks, Chandrasekhar said that the UPA government wanted to work with China and have the governments of the world "control the internet by taking it to an organisation".
"PM Modi rejected the proposal and kept the internet free and open. They arrested youths u/s 66A of IT Act; opposed privacy but under PM Modi's tenure, SC upheld the right to privacy," the Minister told ANI.
"If Kapil Sibal wants the content on religious issues in our country, or spread misinformation against national security and pornography content, that would be his individual opinion, but we believe and people believe that our internet should be safe because our children and elders also use the internet. We want to make the internet a safe and trusted place. It is our opinion that we should listen to the people," he added.
He alleged that the then UPA government opposed the right to privacy as a fundamental right, which was upheld by the top court as a Fundamental Right under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"It is Sibal's government that opposed privacy as a fundamental right and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Supreme Court upheld privacy as the fundamental right. Mr Sibal is famously well known for his zero loss theory when the 2G scam was exposed," he said.
"I will only say the amended internet IT rules are a way for us as a nation to ensure that the internet is safe and trusted for all 'digital nagrik'," the Minister said.
Stating that nearly 80 crore Indians use the internet today, Chandrasekhar said that it is the duty of the government to make sure that the internet is safe and trusted for all.
"Most importantly, the internet platforms are accountable for those who use them. That is why we have created the new IT rules," he said.
"The explicit fact that articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution can never be violated by the internet platforms as they have done for several years including during Sibal's tenure as he was minister of the UPA government. I would suggest Mr Sibal, first read the rules before he goes on TV with his lack of knowledge," the Minister added taking a jibe at Sibal.
Earlier on October 28, the government notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022
According to the new rules, government-appointed appellate committees will be set up in three months for resolving the grievances of social media users.
The notification said each grievance appellate committee shall consist of a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the Centre, of which one shall be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members.
Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw said the new rules will empower users.
"Empowering users. Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) has been introduced for hearing appeals against decisions of Grievance Officer appointed by the intermediary," he said in a tweet.
The new rules modify Information Technology Rules 2021.
They state that the intermediary shall make reasonable efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that belongs to another person and to which the user does not have any right; is obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another"s privacy including bodily privacy, insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion or caste with the intent to incite violence; and is harmful to child.
They state that the intermediary will also make reasonable efforts to cause the user of its computer resource not to host or display material that infringes any patent, trademark, copyright or other proprietary rights; deceives or misleads the addressee about the origin of the message or knowingly and intentionally communicates any misinformation or information which is patently false and untrue or misleading in nature; impersonates another person; threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence, or prevents investigation of any offence, or is insulting other nation. (ANI)

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