Authors: Mahwash Fatima
Published: November 2023
The Quantum Hub (TQH) organised a policy dialogue on the proposed Digital India Act (DIA) – an upcoming legislation that aims to replace the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act) to provide a comprehensive principle-based legal framework for the digital sector in India. Held in partnership with the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) on October 12, 2023 in New Delhi, the event featured two panel discussions on the contours of DIA and the principle of safe harbour thereunder.
Attended by a diverse group of stakeholders, the event provided a platform for nuanced discussions that highlighted the opportunities and challenges of the DIA and offered some key insights and recommendations for the government and the stakeholders to consider while drafting and implementing the legislation.
The first panel explored the scope of the proposed law in the backdrop of pressing concerns that are necessitating the introduction of DIA. The discussions focused on ensuring user safety in the wake of harms arising out of existing and emerging technologies, regulatory approaches and the establishment of effective institutional bodies. The panel also examined the delicate balance between innovation and regulation. A key point highlighted by the panel was the necessity of an adaptive risk-based regulatory approach over exhaustive enumeration of user harms keeping in view the importance of a principles-based regulatory framework to adapt to the dynamic nature of emerging technologies.
The second panel scrutinised the intricate aspects of safe harbour principle. Discussions revolved around the potential impact of rethinking safe harbour on user safety, free speech and the fundamental functioning of digital platforms. While complete immunity of platforms was challenged, the panel underscored the importance of safeguarding safe harbour principles and raised concerns about the potential negative consequences of eliminating safe harbour, impacting innovation and flexibility in response to changing market dynamics.
The points that emerged from this policy dialogue highlight the need for a principled, adaptive framework to navigate the dynamic digital landscape in India, fostering innovation while safeguarding user safety.