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“Arbitrary, illegal”: journalist Wagle opposes Bombay HC to new IT rules for digital media

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Senior journalist Nikhil Wagle filed a DIP in the Bombay High Court challenging the recently notified 2021 information technology rules under the Information Technology (IT) Act, calling them ” arbitrary, illegal ”and contrary to the“ principle of network neutrality ”.

The new rules for social media platforms and digital media, called Guidelines for Intermediaries and Code of Ethics for Digital Media, came into effect in May of this year.

The guidelines, announced in February, had asked all social media platforms to put in place a grievance and compliance mechanism, which included the appointment of a resident grievance officer, a compliance officer and of a nodal contact person.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technologies had also asked these platforms to submit monthly reports on complaints received from users and the actions taken in regard to them. A third requirement for instant messaging applications was to provide for tracking of the first sender of a message.

Wagle, in his motion filed Wednesday through attorney Abhay Nevagi, argued that the rules did not comply with the IT law, which did not allow the executive to make ” radical changes “and were therefore” against the law “.

PIL said the new rules were “arbitrary, illegal” and violated fundamental rights under articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution. The petition also claimed that the new rules contradicted the principle of net neutrality, which is adopted by all countries, including India.

CH will hear PIL in due course.

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