The Madras High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to respond within three weeks to a writ petition filed by Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna, who moved the High Court against the recently notified Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The Ramon Magsasay awardee said the IT Rules, 2021, as the new regulations are commonly called, impose “arbitrary, vague, disproportionate and unreasonable” restrictions on digital media and social media intermediaries, LiveLaw reported.
In the writ petition filed on behalf of the artist by Internet Freedom Foundation and advocate Vrinda Bhandari, he says: “Without privacy it’s impossible to create and perform. And the privacy that ought to be afforded to us all is intrinsically linked with our right to freedom of expression. Our Constitution contains a commitment to the liberty of imagination. Censorship sans reason offends this commitment. It is in furtherance of my rights to freedom of expression and privacy that I am filing the present writ petition. I submit that the Impugned Rules offend my right as an artist and cultural commentator by both imposing a chilling effect on free speech, and by impinging on my right to privacy.”
Krishna’s main contention is that the IT Rules violate his fundamental rights, and go against the provisions of the parent act, the IT Act, the IFF said in a post.
In his affidavit, Krishna has said that the Code of Ethics to be followed by publishers of news and current affairs content and online curated content establish “vague responsibilities on producers of online curated content that will only inevitably lead to a chilling of the creative process”.
The Indian Newspaper Society also wrote to the Prime Minister and Information and Broadcasting Minister last week, asking them to exclude traditional newspapers from the IT Rules.
The rules for digital publishers, INS said, were “regulatory overreach and is unnecessary to ask the news organisations to follow another set of guidelines, which are meant primarily and exclusively for categories of organisations and intermediaries who are NOT covered by the PRB (Press and Registration of Books) Act”.
The government in February announced a three stage regulatory regime for controlling content which includes a two stage self-regulatory mechanism-one at the company and the other at an industry level, followed by a government controlled oversight system under the I&B ministry.
This will also include an inter departmental committee (consisting of various ministries) which would be the highest call for redressal of all grievances if a complaint has been dissatisfied with the decisions taken by the self-regulatory bodies.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the I&B Ministry have been provided three weeks to file their counter affidavit, and the matter will be heard after four weeks, IFF said.