The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) would like to present to its readers a communication from the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council to the Government of India regarding the Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules] 2018 and its potential implications for the right to freedom of expression in India.
This document is in the public domain, and we hope that readers might benefit from being aware of the concerns being expressed by the HRC over the government's proposal. Some of these concerns include the placing of additional prohibitions on online content.
In addition, David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur, said that the compliance with the draft Rule would "require intermediaries to match the identity of users to the information at issue, which may in turn necessitate the circumvention of encryption and other digital security measures".
"Laws that mandate or effectively require decryption may compel intermediaries to introduce security vulnerabilities or otherwise weaken encryption in a manner that undermines encryption and digital security protocols for all users across the platform," the communication adds. Addressing the draft proposal's provision to retain user data, Mr Kaye said, "The proposed data retention requirements also raise necessity and proportionality concerns. These requirements effectively compel intermediaries to create databases of personal and sensitive information about users that are readily accessible to the government for an unspecified range of “investigative purposes.”