Given below is the text of a petition put out by SFLC.in. You can sign it here. Do urge others to sign it too. Please also consider writing directly to your or any or all Members of Parliament urging them to annul IT Rules 2011. You can read SFLC.in’s very brief primer on the IT Rules here. The web address www.IT2011.in also redirects you to the petition page.
Dear Member of Parliament,
The Constitution of India praovides the citizens of this country the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression subject to reasonable restrictions as laid down in the Constitution itself. Now, with the spread of the Internet and the availability of tools like blogs and social networks we are able to enjoy this freedom to the fullest and have a true participatory democracy.
You, as legislators recognised the importance of intermediaries like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Internet Service Providers for e-commerce as well as for free expression, helping us to express ourselves and provided them protection from any legal liability that could arise out of content generated by users. Such a protection provided in the Information Technology Act, 2000 was important for these intermediaries to operate freely without threats of frivolous legal action.
Now, the Government wants to impose restrictive, unconstitutional guidelines on the intermediaries via the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 notified in April 2011.
The rules cast an obligation on the intermediaries to remove access to any content on receiving a complaint from an affected person that it falls under the category of a wide, vague, undefined list of “unlawful” content specified in the rules. This vague list includes content considered as ‘blasphemous’, ‘libellous’, ‘grossly harmful’, ‘harassing’, or ‘disparaging’. The rules mandate the intermediaries to decide whether content is “lawful”, thereby bye-passing judicial processes. The rules also allow Government agencies to access personal data of users without any legal safeguards. These rules are violative of our constitutional rights of freedom of expression and privacy and are also against the intent of the Parliament as stated in the Information Technology Act, 2000.
We appeal to you to support the motion for annulment of the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 being moved in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and to ask the Government to draft new rules which will protect our freedom and privacy.