Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Electronics & IT, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar today said that freedom of speech cannot be a cover for criminality, illegality and user harm, and reaffirmed that the intermediaries have to be accountable for the content on their platforms.
Emphasizing that safety and trust cannot be sacrificed at the altar of freedom of speech and privacy, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “For decades the model that was followed was that intermediaries were not accountable about the content on their platforms, and encouraged anonymity to prevent traceability of the illegal content. This helped the proliferation of child sexual abuse and other illegalities on the internet.”
The Minister was addressing the valedictory session of the National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) organised by the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi.
Stating that there has been a change in approach under the government under the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar said, “An intermediary, if it wants to do business in India, is now under obligation to carry out due diligence over the kind of content it carries and if there is content which is illegal or CSAM, it has to inform us about the first originator when a court order is produced.”
Making it clear that the Government and the Intermediaries are not in any kind of adversarial relationship, he said it is in their joint interest to ensure that the internet is safe and trusted from exploitative material such as CSAM.
Referring to CSAM content in the domain of online gaming, the Minister said “There are thousands of games which are gamified CSAM’s – we are in the process of enacting news rules under the IT Act which will make it very difficult for games that will incorporate CSAM to be available on the Indian internet”.
The Minister also spoke of the upcoming Digital India Act, that, he said, will be a contemporaneous legislation, to deal with everything necessary to ensure that the Internet in India is safe and trusted for our digital nagriks.
“India will chart its own course to ensure that the internet is safe and trusted, not just for adults but also for children,” Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar asserted.
NHRC Chairperson Justice (Retd.) Arun Mishra, members Dr. Dnyaneshwar Manohar Mulay and Shri Rajiv Jain, and Secretary General Shri D K Singh were among other domain experts present on the occasion.