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IT ministry officials to discuss proposed changes in social media rules with legal experts on Jan 5

IT ministry officials are planning to meet on January 5 legal experts and those advocating privacy to discuss proposed changes in social media rules, amid concerns over privacy and free speech.

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NEW DELHI: IT ministry officials are planning to meet on January 5 legal experts and those advocating privacy to discuss proposed changes in social media rules, amid concerns over privacy and free speech. According to a source in the ministry, the proposed meeting with legal experts on January 5 is likely to be followed by a one-hour Twitter session that would be open to the larger public for discussion on the matter.

The government is keen on getting feedbacks and clarifying doubts, through the proposed exercise, said the person familiar with the development.

The government proposes to amend the information technology (IT) rules to curb “misuse” of social media and online platforms, and the IT Ministry on December 24 released draft changes that would require such ‘intermediaries’ to enable tracing of originators of information when required by authorised government agencies.

The IT ministry officials held a meeting last month with senior executives of Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and other companies to discuss these proposed changes in the IT rules, and the wider public feedback has been sought on the issue, by January 15.

The proposed changes, which come ahead of general elections in 2019, in the rules will place social media platforms under lens and require them to deploy tools to “identify” and curb unlawful content, as well as follow stricter due-diligence practices.

The government’s decision to bring amendments had been slammed by the Opposition which had termed the move as one that would violate privacy of individuals, and an attempt to convert India into a “nanny state”.

Experts have also warned that the planned amendments, that mandate traceability of “unlawful content”, could invade personal privacy and free speech.

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