The government of India wants tech platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google to remove content it deems “unlawful” within 24 hours of official notice, and develop “automated tools” which would “proactively identify and remove such material,” reports BuzzFeed, citing the publication of the proposed rules by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
The rules would also require companies to break end-to-end encryption to allow the government to snoop on communications.
India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) published the proposed rules on its website following a report on Monday by the Indian Express revealing the government’s proposal to modify the country’s primary IT law to work them in. The report comes days after India’s government seemingly authorized 10 federal agencies to snoop into every computer in the country last week.
The proposed measures have provoked concerns from privacy activists who say they would threaten free speech and enable mass surveillance. –BuzzFeed
— Megha Mandavia (@MeghaMandaviaET) December 25, 2018
Under the new rules, any platform with over 5 million users in India would be required to appoint a “person of contact” to provide “24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers,” while also maintaining records of “unlawful activity” for a period of six months – or indefinitely if ordered by a court. Each user would also be sent monthly notifications notifying them that the platform can and may “remove non-compliant information immediately and kick the user off.”
A MeitY official discussed modifying India’s IT law to work in the new rules with representatives from at least seven tech companies including Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter in a confidential meeting last week, reported the Indian Express.
If the proposals were to go ahead, it “would be a tremendous expansion in the power of the government over ordinary citizens, eerily reminiscent of China’s blocking and breaking of user encryption to surveil its citizens,” the Internet Freedom Foundation,