Watch our Partner – Yajas Setlur, discuss the ambitious initiative of the Indian Government to transform how India accepts and regulates technology in our latest episode of JSA Live.
He also discusses the upcoming Digital India Act, a new central statute that will completely restructure India’s digital regulatory ecosystem.
I am here to discuss the Indian Government’s ambitious project to revolutionize the way our nation embraces and regulates technology. I’m talking about the forthcoming Digital India Act, a new central law that will overhaul India’s digital regulatory ecosystem.
Why do we need this law? The current law governing the internet and digital markets, the Information Technology Act of 2000, was enacted over 22 years ago when the internet was still in its infancy. Since then, the internet has evolved exponentially, giving rise to new challenges and risks from a legal and regulatory perspective.
Unfortunately, the IT Act has been unable to keep pace with these developments, despite several amendments and other efforts from the Government. And this gap between technology, business and law is ever widening.
Thus, the Digital India Act is proposed to replace the IT Act, and together with the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, National Data Governance Policy, and certain amendments to the Indian Penal Code, overhaul India’s regulatory framework.
What are the expectations from the Digital India Act? Stakeholders have varied expectations for this Act.
Based on the consultations being conducted by the IT Minister, several significant changes from the previous framework are anticipated.
One major change is the regulation of intermediaries such as e-commerce marketplaces (Amazon), OTT platforms (Netflix), social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter), search engines (Google), etc. Under the current regime, intermediaries have safe harbor protection, which means they cannot be held responsible for the actions of others on their platforms as long as they fulfill certain due diligence requirements and promptly respond to court orders or government directives to remove harmful content.
However, with the evolution of intermediaries and the growth of the internet, the government has expressed its intention to revisit this framework, and the foundation for intermediary protections, considering the evolving roles of intermediaries.
It is understood that different frameworks may be applicable to different types of intermediaries based on their functions, involvement in content shared, user base, and associated risks.
In addition, we expect the Digital India Act to (A) establish an adjudicatory mechanism for resolving disputes between platforms and users, something that has been lacking in the IT Act; (B) address the moderation of fake news and harmful content; (C) address other issues of user harm, such as addictive technologies; and (D) establish guidelines for new and emerging technologies, such as AI.
The Minister has clarified that the Act will not stifle innovation unless it poses harm to users. He also clarified that this law will adopt a principle based approach to regulation, instead of containing prescriptive rules. This will allow the government to adapt to the ever-changing internet landscape.
Stakeholders expect a draft of the Digital India Act to be released for public consultation in the next two weeks. And we expect robust response from all the various stakeholders in the Indian tech industry. JSA will, as always stay ahead of the curve and we aim to help our clients prepare and proactively address the challenges and opportunities that this new law brings.