Child Porn, XXX Clips, Fake News: Govt Proposes Amendments to IT Act For Banning Apps & Website, WhatsApp, Facebook May be Affected
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New Delhi, January 2: In a bid to curb the online spread of fake news and child pornography, the government has proposed amendments to the IT Act. Amendments, if cleared, will allow the government to impose a complete ban on a website or app for allowing child porn, XXX clips and fake news on their platform. This could affect the operations of online platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, UCWeb, Telegram and Google.

Under Section 69A of the IT Act, the government can deny access to information that is detrimental to the sovereignty, security and friendly relations of the state. If the IT Act is amended, the government will have the power to an extreme step of taking down apps and websites for spreading fake news and child pornography. The government also proposes the maximum penalty at Rs 15 crore or 4 per cent of the worldwide turnover of the violator, whichever is higher. WhatsApp Fights Fake News: Facebook Owned Messenger App Launches Video Ad Campaign ‘Share Joy, Not Rumours’.

According to cyber law experts, the existing IT law cannot do much to curb fake news and child pornography spread over online platforms. "We do not have any law to take the companies to task on this issue. They can be proceeded against only under the Indian Penal Code provisions, and not as per the IT Act. We do require stricter laws and effective enforcement, including having data localisation," Puneet Bhasin, a cyber law expert, told TOI.

The proposed changes could potentially impact the operations of popular services like WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Telegram as there are differences between some of these services and the government over the issue of tracing origins of content that is fake, interfering in elections and promoting child abuse and revenge porn. Last year, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had pitched for more stringent rules to ensure that internet platforms do not become vehicles to incite hated, promote money laundering and provoke terrorism.

“We need accountability and power to heavily penalise the companies in case of violations, or refusal to cooperate," TOI quoted a government official as saying.