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Tech Lobby Takes India to Task Over Plans to Police Online Content

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An Asian internet lobby group, whose members include Alphabet’s Google and Facebook, on Thursday criticized India’s plans to regulate social media content.

The proposal drafted by India’s technology ministry in December would compel Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to remove within 24 hours content deemed to be unlawful, including anything affecting the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

“While Internet intermediaries fully support addressing issues like malicious misinformation, we strongly feel that blanket regulation that is overly broad and contains vague and ambiguous language will jeopardize citizens’ fundamental rights to privacy and free speech,” Jeff Paine, Managing Director of the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), said in a statement.

The AIC has also voiced its concerns in a letter responding to an invitation by India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology for public comments and suggestions on the draft rules by January 31.

“In addition to interfering with the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression, and right to privacy … the Draft Rules impose burdensome obligations on the intermediaries,” the AIC said in the letter.

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