India’s new IT rules are seen as a move to rein in big tech companies [File: Manish Swarup/AP Photo]

The Indian government has announced changes to its information technology rules that will apply to social media companies, a move likely to be seen as reining in big tech firms.

Under the amended rules, which were announced on Friday, a government panel will be formed to hear complaints from users about content moderation decisions by social media platforms. This effectively gives the government control over the content moderation decisions that social media companies make.

The Internet Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for digital rights, called the proposed panel “essentially a government censorship body for social media that will make bureaucrats arbiters of our online free speech”.

One of the concerns raised by the foundation is that the existence of the panel “will incentivise platforms to remove/suppress/label any speech unpalatable to the government, or those exerting political pressure”.

The foundation also expressed concern that the government will also be in a position to force social media platforms to display content that the platforms have found to violate their norms.

“Opaque and arbitrary methods of choosing appeals for their review, the lack of trust in an all Executive body, the ability of the government to influence content moderation decisions in a non-transparent manner” are just some of the other concerns the foundation flagged about the amended rules.

This story was originally published in Read the full story here