IT rule changes fail to protect parody and satire: Bombay High Court

IT rule changes fail to protect parody and satire: Bombay High Court

IT rule changes fail to protect parody and satire: Bombay High Court

The amendments to the information technology rules, on the face of it, do not appear to offer protection for parody and satire, the Bombay High Court said on Monday when hearing a petition filed by the comedian Kunal Kamra.

The HC bench also said Kamra’s petition challenging the amendments was maintainable.

On April 6, the Union Government enacted certain amendments to the Information Technology Rules 2021 (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Code of Ethics), including the provision of a unit fact-checking tool to identify false, false or misleading government-related online content.

Kamra, in her petition, claimed that the new rules could potentially lead to the arbitrary blocking of her content or the suspension or deactivation of her social media accounts, causing her professional harm.

He asked the court to declare the amended rules unconstitutional and to order the government to refrain from taking action against anyone under the rules.

The Union Government, in an affidavit filed in court, had “reiterated that the role of the Fact-Checking Unit is limited to any Central Government activity, which may include information on policies, programs, notifications, rules, regulations, their implementation, etc”.

“The fact-checking unit can only identify false or false or misleading information and not any opinion, satire or artistic impression. clear and does not suffer from any alleged arbitrary or unreasonableness alleged by the petitioner (Kamra),” the Center’s affidavit added.

On Monday, a divisional bench of Justices GS Patel and Neela Gokhale, at the plea hearing, said, prima facie, the rules do not appear to offer protection for fair government criticism such as parody and satire.

“You don’t affect parody, satire, that’s what your affidavit says. That’s not what your rules say. No protection is given. We’ll have to see that,” the Patel judge.

The Center had also stated that the fact-checking unit had not yet been notified by the government and therefore the arguments made in the petition (by Kamra) regarding its operation had no basis and were ” premature and under simple misconceptions of the petitioner”. .

However, the bench said the argument that the challenge is “premature” is also incorrect.

The court will hear the case on April 27.

Under the amendments, intermediaries such as social media companies will have to act against content identified by the fact-checking unit or risk losing their “safe harbor” protections under Section 79 of the Data Protection Act. information technology.

Safe harbor protections allow intermediaries to avoid liability for what third parties post on their websites.

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