Ashwini Vaishnav: Responsibility for online content must be defined

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnav said India should “clearly define” the responsibility for the content being put out on social media platforms as the word on the internet has an “inherent belief”.

“The written word lies in. If we read something, we tend to believe it. Who will take the responsibility of that content? This is very important because the young mind will very easily be tempted to believe what the written word is. Whether the content is on the social media platform or on the website, it should be clearly defined so that it can become part of the society in an acceptable form,” the minister said.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the first India Internet Governance Forum (IIGF 2021), Vaishnav said there is a need for a “fundamental rethinking of the entire governance structure of the Internet”.

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focus on key issues

The IT minister’s statement focuses on the key issues surrounding the Internet – its accessibility, openness or security. The accountability of the big players on the Internet to their consumers, or the emerging threats of online user harm and criminality, are all issues that should be debated and discussed.

“… So, with these fundamental changes, we definitely need a fundamental rethink on the entire governance structure of the internet,” Vaishnav said.

Emphasizing on understanding the social impact of disruption in business model due to advent of e-commerce, the Minister said that though it has many advantages, it also has some things which need to be mitigated. “The way e-commerce has disrupted the entire business world, the way many other industries are disrupting, which has a social impact, a social cost… It has many benefits, but it also has some things. So, this is something that we as a society have to think about again, because that leaves out a lot of people, who are less able to cope with the changes. How can bring those people into the mainstream,” he said.

Vaishnav also said that since all systems today are powered by digital technology and the Internet is the fundamental medium through which all this happened, it was important to build infrastructure within the governance system so that cyber security is a “central part” of development. Be it

Speaking after the inauguration, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajiv Chandrashekhar said that the global future of the Internet should lie with the Internet ecosystem and innovation capabilities in India.

“It is of utmost importance that we, as a nation, carefully shape the future of the Internet, carefully shaping the policies and regulations, rights and responsibilities going forward,” he said.

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