NEW DELHI: Global internet companies Mozilla, GitHub and Cloudflare have raised concerns against censorship of internet platforms in India, surveillance and have asked for a level-playing field for all internet players, in an open letter addressed to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The letter, sent in the backdrop of proposed changes to intermediary liability rules which are likely to be notified by January 15, highlights significant concerns with the rules and calls for improved transparency by allowing the public an opportunity to see a final version of these amendments prior to their enactment.
An excerpt from the letter reads: “On behalf of a group of global internet organisations with millions of users in India, we are writing to urge you to ensure the planned amendments to India’s intermediary liability regime allow for the internet to remain an open, competitive, and empowering space for Indians.”
“We understand and respect the need to ensure the internet is a safe space where large platforms take appropriate responsibility. However, the last version of these amendments suggest that the rules will promote automated censorship, tilt the playing field in favour of large players, substantially increase surveillance, and prompt a fragmentation of the internet in India that would harm users while failing to empower Indians,” the letter said.
The three internet players believe that imposing the obligations proposed in these new rules would place tremendous, and in many cases, fatal burden on many online intermediaries, especially new organizations and companies.
“A new community or a startup would be significantly challenged by the need to build expensive filtering infrastructure and hire an army of lawyers,” the note from the three internet organizations stated on Tuesday.
Internet players have appealed for increased transparency from the government. Previously, Wikimedia Foundation’s General Counsel Amanda Keton had also penned a letter to Ravi Shankar Prasad urging the government to make public the latest changes to the rules.