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Delhi high court seeks response from Centre on plea challenging new IT rules

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday requested the Center’s response to a petition challenging the new TI rules for allegedly disregarding the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and privacy of users of social media intermediaries such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter.
A bench of the Chief Justice DN Patel and Judge Jyoti Singh issued a notice to the Center on the statement of lawyer Uday Bedi alleging that the new TI rules are unconstitutional and antithetical to the fundamental principles of democracy.
In giving the Center time to file its counter-affidavit, the court listed the request for an additional hearing on September 13.
In his petition, Bedi has argued that social media intermediaries cannot have the power to decide, on the basis of a complaint or otherwise, what information is liable to be removed.
The petition states that the new Information technology rules they themselves do not define how social media intermediaries would voluntarily take action against a complaint without spying on all conversations about it. SMI platform and that it is not possible to trace the first originator of a message without decrypting all the private information that is stored, published, hosted or transmitted through the platform.
While granting powers that exceed the powers granted under the main legislation, the TI Act, to voluntarily remove access to information that does not conform to Rule 3 (1) (b), the contested Rules have allowed social media platforms place users under constant surveillance, which constitutes a serious violation of the right to privacy, the petition reads.
The rules also require that even if the person is not under any investigation for violation of the rules, the intermediary must retain their data without any justification, which is a serious violation of the user’s right to privacy, the request further said.
Emphasizing that no appeal procedure has been provided under the rules against the decision of a Complaints Officer and / or the Chief Compliance Officer, Bedi, in his plea, has added that broad powers have been granted to restrict freedom of expression of the citizen. from individuals, which is surprisingly disproportionate and completely unjustified.
There is also no mandate that the author of the allegedly objectionable information must be heard before deciding any complaint against him, it is claimed.





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