Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Identity theft and cyberbullying could fall under the Digital Bill


The Information Technology Act of 2000, which is currently India's primary legal framework for regulating Internet businesses, will be replaced by the new Bill.

The introduction of online-specific offenses is anticipated to be a major focus of the upcoming Digital India Bill as the Centre works on a modern law for the Internet ecosystem to replace the Information Technology Act, which has been in place for two decades.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), according to information obtained by The Indian Express, may include in the new Bill offenses such as impersonation, identity theft, catfishing, and cyberbullying of children. This is due to the fact that offenses committed online, particularly on social media platforms, can be unique and do not have an equivalent in the offline world.

The new bill will place a significant emphasis on various user harms. A senior government official stated, "The ministry is considering adding issues like doxxing, gaslighting, impersonation, cyberbullying, and catfishing as offenses." Online dating is the origin of the term "catfishing," which refers to the practice of creating fictitious identities in order to pursue deceptive online relationships.

The Information Technology Act of 2000, which is currently India's primary legal framework for regulating Internet businesses, will be replaced by the new Bill. Due to the fact that the IT Act was enacted prior to the era in which social media and online dating platforms became commonplace, the offenses listed in it are essentially borrowed from the offline world. There are currently no laws in India regarding online-specific harms.

MeitY is said to have contacted more than 200 young people and their parents to get their thoughts on what they think is a threat on the internet in order to create the Digital India Bill. The official stated, "We have to ask a diverse set of stakeholders about the harms they face on the Internet because the goal is to modernize the legal framework."

The Indian Express reported in July that online-specific offenses could also include deliberate online misinformation and doxxing—an attempt to publish private information about a specific person online with malicious intent.

This paper reported earlier this month that MeitY is also considering regulating a wide range of online platforms under the Digital India Bill, including social media sites, e-commerce entities, fact-checking portals, and AI-based platforms.

As a result, the traditional definition of what an online intermediary is could be rewritten. Generally, these stages are viewed as simple conductors to get to administrations on the Web, with zero influence over the substance facilitated by them.

There is no classification for intermediaries under the IT Act. MeitY published the Information Technology (IT) Rules in 2021, which established for the first time a distinct category for social media intermediaries and specific regulations for them. The ministry published draft amendments to these regulations on Monday, January 2, defining online gaming platforms as intermediaries and proposing additional due diligence requirements for them.

According to a report published earlier this month by The Indian Express, the Digital India Bill is also anticipated to establish a regulator for the digital space that is comparable to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), establish penal consequences for violations, prescribe governing provisions for emerging technologies such as the metaverse and blockchain, and include provisions for algorithmic accountability of social media platforms.

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