How Indian Laws Often Fail To Keep Pace With Technology

There is without a doubt that technology has changed the lives of most people in this generation, if not everyone. Tech has been a vital part of our everyday lives for most of us–from our smartphones to the way we do work to the way we consume entertainment, tech has brought about new ways to do things that the previous generations could only imagine. However, there are certain places in the world where laws and regulations exist that seem to not only not embrace the innovations brought about by these new technologies, but also limit how people can use them. Take India, as one example.

Did you know that although there are good Indian online casinos out there where you can play, land-based gambling is outlawed for most of the country? It is, and people can only play casino games and do betting on a very limited area of the huge country. Also, there are certain social media apps and services that most people all over the world would be able to enjoy using without any predicament in mind, but Indian users would need to use them with a lot of considerations to put in mind.

Here are some of the ways certain Indian laws make the use of some technologies a complicated thing for its citizens, particularly in the use of social media platforms.

India would hold social media platforms responsible for all content

Just in February of this year, India released the Digital Media Ethics Code of 2021. Among other rules and by-laws that this stipulated, it aims to hold social media platforms “accountable against their misuse and abuse.”

Among wanting to have regulation over what is published and what is deemed “unlawful” within social media platforms, it was also reported that the Indian government even went to issue letters containing threats to Facebook and Twitter employees in the country that they could face jail time if they would not comply with this new regulation. The Indian government, however, denied these reports.

The new law removes any control by the platforms on the content that they have on their platform, regardless of whether it was published by them or shared by their users. If the content has been reported or flagged and was deemed “unlawful” by the government, these platforms are now under the obligation to act and censor the post accordingly. Either they do that, or they risk criminal prosecution.

Facebook and Twitter, two of the biggest platforms in the country, did not comment on the issue and the new laws that affect them. On the other hand, Google had expressed that they do not want to comment on the issue.

Overall, this new law changes the game for the platform owners. Usually, they do not hold the responsibility to whatever content was posted on their platform–it is the user’s responsibility to make sure that their content does not violate the terms of use for the platform. If it was reported or flagged by the platform to have done a violation, it would simply be taken down.

Usually, prohibited content includes things that you would usually expect not to be on a social media platform such as pornography, prostitution, selling of drugs, or content that infringe copyright. However, it does not include posts that are critical of the government or any particular person of authority.

Although most analysts and international advocates for free speech call this new law of the country “deeply worrying” and “disproportionate,” some see it as a potential to lay the foundation for good content moderation, provided that the line that separates lawful and “unlawful” content is determined clearly and is in line with international laws and standards.