New norms to make social media more accountable
Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges.
Mains: Issues in making social media more accountable
What’s the News?
- The recent privacy concerns involving WhatsApp has strengthened call for making social media companies more accountable.
- The government on Thursday said that it was working on rules to mandate social media companies to identify and remove child sexual abuse material, rape images and content promoting terrorism without affecting privacy.
Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000:
- It empowers the government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence relating to above.
- Privacy advocates don’t seem convinced and have been demanding stronger legal frameworks to ensure such powers are used for bonafide reasons only and are not misused to target dissenters.
The traceability clause-
- It has emerged as a major bone of contention between the government and privacy advocates world over. MeitY has proposed to amend the said rules.
- Some of the key attributes of the proposal include
- Removal of malicious content within 24 hours of receiving a court order,
- Introducing traceability of the originator of the information and deployment of technology-based automated tools for proactively identifying and disabling public access to unlawful information.
- In many cases, it does not even require a 24-hour time period. The challenge arises when the request does not come through with complete details or where the authenticity of the person sending the request needs to be established.
- The guidelines do need to recognise that despite best efforts there could be situations where the time provided may not be sufficient and therefore it should provide for such exceptions.
- There needs to be a fine balance maintained in terms of monitoring for national security and with privacy of citizens.
- Building a backdoor-A commonly used method for building backdoor is the key escrow system, where the government creates and distributes encryption keys to tech companies while retaining the decryption (master) keys in escrow so they can unlock anyone’s personal communication.
However, it can also weaken the security of the social media platform opening it to serious cyber security risks.