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India responds to the United Nations on new IT rules

Bengaluru: India has told the United Nations that the new IT rules were finalised by the government after broad consultations with various stakeholders, civil society, industry associations and organisations, after three special rapporteurs from the UN early this month raised concerns with certain parts of the legislation, and said that “due diligence obligations” placed on intermediaries may lead to “infringement of a wide range of human rights”.

“The Permanent Mission of India would also like to highlight that India’s democratic credentials are well recognized. The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. The independent judiciary and a robust media are part of India’s democratic structure,” the permanent mission of India to the UN and other International Organisations in Geneva told in a statement.

The Permanent Mission of India would also like to inform that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting undertook broad consultations in 2018 with various stakeholders, including individuals, civil society, industry association and organizations and invited public comments to prepare the draft Rules. Thereafter an interministerial meeting had discussed in detail the comments received in detail and, accordingly, the Rules were finalized.

The Permanent Mission of India requests that the enclosed information may be brought to the attention of the concerned Special Rapporteurs.

The Permanent Mission of India to the Office of the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Special Procedures Branch of the Human Rights Council the assurances of its highest consideration,” it said.

Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and Joseph Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, in a joint letter on June 11 had raised concerns over India’s new IT rules.

The letter says that India’s new IT Rules are in violation of rules laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a key international human rights treaty.

“As a global leader in technology innovation, India has the potential to develop legislation that can place it at the forefront of efforts to protect digital rights. However, the substantially broadened scope of the rules is likely to do just the opposite,” the joint letter by the UN Special Rapporteurs said.

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