Digital Policy series: How will intermediary liability guidelines affect privacy and business?

‘It’s important that internet platforms and companies do not become arbitrators of free speech.’

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In this second episode of our Digital Policy series in collaboration with The Dialogue, Abhinandan Sekhri speaks to Manuj Garg, co-founder of the healthcare website myUpchar, Kazim Rizvi, a public policy entrepreneur and the founding director The Dialogue, and Tanya Dalal, principal associate at the technology-focused law firm Ikigai Law, about the potential impact of the Intermediary Guidelines Amendment Rules, 2018 on businesses as well as private lives. 

Dalal highlights how online platforms are forced to jeopardise the privacy of their users by collecting more and more information about them. “The policing of user content is one thing, but it [the proposed guidelines] also ask the intermediary to aid an investigating authority when asked for help,” she explains. “When the authorities ask for help, one of the modes in which an intermediary is supposed to help them is by tracing the user.” 

Pointing out the limitations of AI moderation, Garg says, “AI is an extremely complex technology, it really doesn’t understand human-generated content, especially in Indian languages.” He adds, “The guidelines will have a very serious impact not just on UGC platforms but also on innovation around the tech ecosystem.” 

Emphasizing the need for accountability when it comes to controlling hate speech, Rizvi argues, “It is important that the platforms and companies do not become arbitrators of free speech. Public speech has the power to change the government, it has the power to change societies. And you don’t want that power to be with a few intermediaries.” 

The discussion also delves into questions of who is an intermediary, what types of content moderation are available, whether there are alternatives to the intermediary guidelines, and much more. 

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