Indian govt may hold social media firms accountable for algorithms under ‘Digital India Act’

The union regime is because a proposal to make internet and social media firms “accountable” for the “algorithms” they deploy to tailor content based on the specific browsing history and profile of users, officials in the know told ET. India will exist amidst the get-go few nations to mandate legal oversight of these proprietary codes if the proposal is included in the forthcoming Digital Bharat Act (DIA).

The draft laws are expected to also comprise provisions governing the utilise of emerging technologies such as advanced breakthrough computing, artificial intelligence and the metaverse amidst others, sources said.

“The thought is to forbid misuse of Indian citizens’ information. Fifty-fifty if the data is stored in India, it can be misused by highly advanced algorithms. That must be prevented,” said a senior government official.

The DIA will too include provisions regulating the way in which large cyberspace firms process data. This is to ensure they do not identify an individual user from an anonymised dataset. “Depending on the size, the type of intermediary and the infinite they operate in, there will be rules and regulations to ensure no user harm is washed,” said officials enlightened of the matter.

Also read | Significant work done, draft Digital India Act framework by early 2023, says MoS Information technology

The typhoon rules, which are in the concluding stage of preparation, will be sent to the police force ministry building for review earlier information technology is made available for public consultation. The new rules will replace the 22-year old Information Technology Act, 2000, which has governed the land’south technology sector, till engagement.

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Social media intermediaries such as Meta, Google and Twitter, which bargain in large amounts of personal information on a solar day-to-mean solar day ground may besides be asked to disembalm the methods by which they process the data collected by them in specific cases. Such requests, however, volition take to be backed by law enforcement agencies through courtroom orders, according to the officials cited in a higher place.

Typically, algorithms define how social media users eat content. For instance, internet firms such equally Twitter and Facebook display “news feeds” to users that are tailored to their location and interests. The proprietary codes can also analyse wide swathes of data to create specific profiles based on browsing or shopping history along with other factors such every bit gender, age, friends and family.

Earlier this yr, the minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar had urged fellow member states of Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) to piece of work towards a framework to prevent misuse of bogus intelligence leading to user impairment.

Before this year, in ane of the first cases of its kind, brusque-video sharing platform TikTok told an Australian regime committee that it would allow regime officials to review its algorithm and test its source code. This was afterward the Australian government raised concerns over profiling of its citizens by the ByteDance-owned firm.

Upcoming Legislation

India’s DIA is modelled on the drafts of the country’due south Telecom Beak and the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill that were released earlier this yr. The DIA will be simple and concise in format, leaving space for executive rulemaking in the futurity given the irresolute engineering science landscape, sources said.

“We are not going to overload the DIA with likewise many legal regulations. Instead, it will be an umbrella framework with space for executive rules which tin be updated as required with time,” they added.

In a departure from earlier practices, the Ministry building of Electronics and Data Engineering science, which is drafting the DIA is likely to seek independent legal opinion on some of the contentious problems before sending the draft bill to the union law ministry for its opinion ahead of releasing to the public for wider discussion, sources said

The last draft of the DIA may be released for public consultations shortly after the winter session of the Parliament is over, they added.

In the last one year, India has seen a rush of policies aimed at regulating the digital ecosystem. While the draft telecom Pecker was released earlier this year, the government besides notified changes to the Information technology Intermediary Rules under the Information technology Act, 2000. Earlier this month, it also published a draft of the revised Data Neb after setting aside the Personal Data Protection Neb that was five years in the making.

On Nov 18 this year, the It ministry released a draft of the DPDP Bill for public consultation. In the latest typhoon, the authorities has proposed that if any arrangement, data fiduciary or processor, handling the personal data of users fails to “take reasonable security safeguards to forbid personal data breach”, a penalty of upwardly to Rs 200 crore will be levied.

The draft of the new data bill has allowed the storage and transfer of data in “trusted” jurisdictions, which would be divers by the government from fourth dimension to time. The revised bill as well envisages the imposition of potent fiscal penalties if organisations fail to comprise data breaches or intimate users and the government virtually such incidents.

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