The Information and Broadcasting ministry and the Intelligence Bureau were in favour of enacting a law to regulate online content. Yet, the government opted for a shortcut, choosing to tinker with the rules instead.
The central government has insisted on multiple occasions in recent months that it drafted and issued the controversial IT Rules 2021, which provide a detailed mechanism for regulating online content of various kinds, based on its existing powers under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
But it is now clear that both the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Intelligence Bureau stated in official documents that there is no specific law in India that empowered the central government to regulate online content.
In fact, in the second half of 2020, both separately sought the enactment of a new law for regulating online content.
Though it subsequently made an about-turn from this position, the I&B ministry even prepared a draft cabinet note in early July last year stating, among other things, that the IT Act 2000 is not primarily meant to regulate content on electronic devices, so a new law is needed for this purpose. The IB, on its
Akshay is an investigative reporter and former writer at The Morning Context. Based in Delhi, he writes about the environment, public policy and economy from the lens of the pulls and pressures of an ambitious democracy. Akshay uses the right to information extensively for reporting stories of vital public interest. Over the past decade and more, he has worked for HuffPost India, Frontline, The Economic Times, Down To Earth and DNA.