IPRMENTLAW WEEKLY HIGHLIGHTS (MAY 24-30)

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WHATSAPP MOVES DELHI HIGH COURT CHALLENGING THE TRACEABILITY MANDATE UNDER IT RULES, 2021

Whatsapp LLC has filed a petition against Union of India challenging the traceability requirement under Rule 4(2) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. In its petition Whatsapp submits that this requirement would force it to break end-to-end encryption on its messaging service, as well as privacy principles underlying it, and infringes upon fundamental rights to privacy and free speech of hundreds of millions of citizens using Whatsapp to communicate privately and securely. Further that the said provision does not satisfy the three-part test set forth by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the K.S. Puttaswamy vs Union of India judgement i.e., legality, necessity and proportionality.  Rule 4(2) is ultra vires its parent statutory provision, Section79 of the Information Technology Act as there is no policy declaration in Section 79 to impose a requirement of identification of first originator. Whatsapp further submits that it is not aware of any country that requires intermediaries to enable identification of first originator of information on end-to-end encrypted messaging services, even if it means fundamentally changing their platforms to do so.

In response to the petition, the Government came out with a press release stating it does not have any intention to violate the privacy of a citizen. At the same time, the government said that Right to Privacy is not absolute and that compliance with the rules was necessary for ‘public interest’. “Such requirements are only in the case when the message is required for prevention, investigation or punishment of very serious offences related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order, or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material,” the release further said.

IBF AND IAMAI SPLIT TO FORM TWO SEPARATE SELF REGULATORY BODIES

The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has changed its name to Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF) by also giving membership to over the top (OTT) platforms. Earlier most OTT platforms were under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). This has resulted in most broadcaster based OTT platforms like Disney+ Hotstar, ZEE5, SonyLIV, Voot, Sun NXT, Discovery+, Jio TV, and Jio Cinema to join IBDF and others like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ALTBalaji, Hungama Play, MX Player, ShemarooMe, Aha, Lionsgate, Firework TV, and hoichoi to stay in the IAMAI camp.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on May 28, 2021 formed the Digital Publishers Content Grievances Council (DPCGC), a Level-II self-regulatory body for the Original Curated Content publishers (OCCP).

PETITION FILED BY A LAWYER AGAINST TWITTER IN DELHI HIGH COURT ALLEGING NON-COMPLIANCE OF IT RULES, 2021

A lawyer named Amit Acharya has filed a petition in Delhi High Court against Twitter alleging that Twitter has not complied with the new IT Rules 2021 as he was unable to find details of a resident grievance officer on the microblogging platform’s website. He seeks that the Court should direct Twitter to appoint a resident grievance officer as mandated under the IT Rules 2021 and to implement other sections of the new rules.

I&B MINISTRY CALLS UPON PUBLISHERS OF ONLINE CURATED CONTENT AND NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS TO FURNISH INFORMATION UNDER RULE 18 OF THE IT RULES, 2021 WITHIN 15 DAYS

The I&B Ministry vide public notice dated May 26, 2021 has called upon all publishers of online curated content and news and current affairs to the Ministry in the applicable format within 15 days. The public notice further clarifies that there is no requirement for prior registration of digital media publishers with the Ministry.

GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, WHATSAPP COMPLY WITH NEW IT RULES; TWITTER YET TO SHARE DETAILS

As per reports, Google, Facebook and WhatsApp have shared details with the IT Ministry as per requirement of the new digital rules, but Twitter has not yet sent details of chief compliance officer to the IT Ministry, and shared details of a lawyer working in a law firm as nodal contact person and grievance officer. Under the new rules, social media companies like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have been asked to identify within 36 hours the originator of a flagged message as well as conduct additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer.

ASCI ISSUES FINAL GUIDELINES FOR INFLUENCER ADVERTISING ON DIGITAL MEDIA

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on May 28, 2021 unveiled the final guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media. The draft guidelines initially were issued in February and feedback from all stakeholders – advertisers, agencies, influencers and consumers – was sought. The guidelines will be applicable to commercial messages or advertisements published on or after June 14, 2021.

ASCI has identified a French technology provider, Reech. “The Reech Influence Cloud platform uses Artificial Intelligence to identify lack of disclosure on posts of a commercial nature on social media. Machine learning algorithms and pattern searching Regex (Regular Expression) maximize accuracy. As part of ASCI’s increasing focus on digital content, we will continue to deploy advanced technology solutions to keep track of advertisements that violate the ASCI code,” Manisha Kapoor, secretary general, ASCI said.

ASCI is launching the ASCI.Social platform, a one-stop destination for all information related to the guidelines themselves. The digital platform will be interactive with dos and don’ts, FAQs, information related to the guidelines, among others.

SALMAN KHAN FILES DEFAMATION SUIT AGAINST KAMAAL R KHAN

Salman Khan and his company Salman Khan Ventures Private Limited have sought an order against KRK restraining him from directly or indirectly making and uploading videos, posting, tweeting or publishing any defamatory content on Salman Khan, his business ventures and their films/projects including the latest film ‘Radhe’. Actor Kamaal R Khan (KRK) made a statement before the Bombay City Civil Court on May 27, 2021 that he will not make any defamatory remarks against Bollywood actor Salman Khan till the next date of hearing of the defamation suit filed by Khan.

US TECH BILLIONAIRE MARK CUBAN INVESTS IN INDIAN BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP POLYGON

Mark Cuban, the US-based investor and entrepreneur has invested an undisclosed amount in Polygon, an Indian cryptocurrency platform that aims to provide faster and cheaper transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Polygon (formerly Matic Network) was co-founded in 2017 by three Indian software engineers — Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal and Anurag Arjun. Mihailo Bjelic from Serbia later joined as co founder.

AMAZON TO BUY MGM STUDIOS FOR  $8.45 BILLION

Amazon.com Inc will buy MGM, the fabled US movie studio home to the James Bond franchise, for $8.45 billion, giving it a huge library of films and TV shows and ramping up competition with streaming rivals led by Netflix and Disney+.

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