Hold social media platforms accountable for the content they host, suggests JPC report on data protection bill

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The Joint Parliamentary Committee, in its report to be submitted on the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019, suggested that all social media platforms be treated as publishers and held accountable for the content they host, sources say. . The Committee therefore recommended replacing “social media intermediary” with “social media platform”.

The report is expected to be tabled in Parliament on December 16, 2021. It will likely include the final recommendations and dissenting notes from several members of the opposition parties. Chaired by PP Chaudhary, the JPC has 30 members including Jairam Ramesh, Manish Tewari, Vivek Tankha and Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress; Dayanidhi Maran of DMK; and Derek O’Brien and Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) began to consider the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 in December 2019. It was referred to the committee shortly after its presentation to the Rajya Sabha by the Minister of Electronics and then Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, December 11, 2019. The changes recommended by the committee will be reflected in the bill once it is accepted by the ministry.

Sources said the Committee took note of the lack of a code of ethics for these social media platforms and the inadequacies of self-regulation. Members believed that social media platforms should be held accountable for the content they host on their platforms.

The Committee reportedly recommended that a statutory media regulator, modeled on the Press Council of India, be put in place to regulate content on all such media platforms, regardless of the platform on which their content is made. is published, whether online, in print or otherwise. .

The JPC report suggested that a mechanism should be devised in which social media intermediaries would be held accountable for unverified content on their platforms. Once the verification request is submitted with the necessary documents, social media intermediaries are required to verify the account and they would be held responsible for the distribution of content by unverified accounts.

Apparently, the Committee was of the opinion that the bill should put in place a regulatory architecture to deal with social media platforms in order to protect the privacy of individuals and the interest of the nation. He added that social media platforms should allow users to identify themselves and that voluntary verification should be made mandatory.

The report suggests that a Data Protection Authority (DPA), which would be set up under this law, take into account the interests of the government with regard to the obligations it has to fulfill, while defining its policies. It is even if the freedom of the individual and his right to privacy are a major concern. Sources said the JPC was of the view that all data should be handled with a single DPA and that the policy on non-personal data should be part of the same legislation.

It is believed that the JPC has rightly pointed out that the existing data protection bill does not contain any provisions to control hardware manufacturers who collect data through digital devices. The committee reportedly said that it has become essential to regulate the manufacturers of computer hardware who now collect data with the software.


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