I recall the 2017 article on this website “Beware of the Cyber Stone pelters” and ” GDPR should not be a license for “Masked Cyber Stone Pelters” to disturb global peace” on the need to regulate irresponsible content which may be used for illegal activities, carrying out cyber crimes and anti national propaganda. The concerns expressed in these articles became a reality when Twitter as a platform hosted anti-India propaganda on its platform under different twitter handles such as Rihanna or Greta Thunberg.
Over the last one week, Naavi.org has been pointing out that a more stable solution to Twitter problem has to be found through Information Technology Act. Naavi.org had also directly taken up with the MeitY the case of “The-file.in” which was a typical case of a website which hides its identity through the misconceived “Privacy Protect” facility in domain name registration and also does not provide any information on the website about its contact details and proceeds to post defamatory and other objectionable content.
For argument sake, we could have seen the Greta Toolkit being published on one such website with domain name registered with Privacy Protect and using a pseudonymous e-mail ID from proton mail account. The Government would have not been able to identify who posted the tool kit but it would be available on the web and even if the Government blocks the URL, access may still be available through proxy websites.
We can leave the Government aside because Government has more power to move the Interpol if required particularly when terrorism or sedition is involved. But think of an ordinary individual who may be defamed by a shoot and scoot strategy by political opponents publishing fake articles. How can he take steps to get the defamatory content removed?
As has been explained in the previous article on GoDaddy, the domain name registrars provide active assistance to the “Cyber Stone pelters” by hiding the identity of “Content Crime Perpetrators” by quoting “Privacy Laws”. It is necessary to point out that first of all organizations like “Thefile.in” don’t have “Privacy” rights and further when the domain name owner does not provide correct contact details during registration or posts content which is in violation of any law the domain name contract with the registrar itself is violated and the registrar would be in contravention of the UDRP and ICANN guidelines.
Not providing any contact details on the website or giving false addresses is a prima facie indication that the content owner is hiding his identity which could be to avoid being legally questioned.
This point was highlighted in the e-mail letters sent during the last week to the Meity, the Secretary, the Minister etc.
It was therefore pleasing to note that today’s Hindustan Times Article suggests that Government has decided to take some steps on the lines suggested by making suitable provisions under ITA 2000.
The article has rightly pointed out the difficulty in invoking legal remedies through a Police Complaint or the Court order and indicates that the Government may think of a “Alternative Dispute Resolution” mechanism probably on the ODR basis.
The official added that “The ideal time frame for action would be 48 hours, so that the content can be contained. ”
We welcome this development.
We also understand that ICANN is working on guidelines on the WhoIs data through Expedited Policy Development Process (EPDP) related to the development of a system for Standardized Access/Disclosure (SSAD) to non-public registration data.
The details of ICANN efforts are available here.