Technology companies will have their hands full in 2020 with the implementation of the Personal Data Protection Bill but IT experts say, the draft guidelines that India intends to institute by mid-January could make it ‘impossible’ for some global organisations to comply with the regulation.
“The intermediary guidelines update may have been envisioned with valid reason: fake news. But in the form they are being proposed, they are likely to pose an existential threat to most online platforms, including WhatsApp and Wikipedia, said Prasanto K Roy, a tech policy consultant and former vice-president at Nasscom.
Recently, Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that hosts and operates Wikipedia, has shot off a letter to IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressing concern over a clause that proposes to have web content filtered by automated mechanisms and taken down if deemed inappropriate.
The online encyclopedia also highlighted that the new rules would impose a significant financial burden on non-profit tech organisations and its open editing model would be “severely disrupted”.
Roy explained, Wikipedia highlighted the biggest potential impact: fragmentation of the global internet, much as several of the country’s recent tech policy moves — including data localisation — have done.
“Enforcing the guidelines in the form they currently are may also cause Wikipedia to shut down access for India. Or, it may demand setting up of a local office like any other platform which has over five million users (wikipedia uses a volunteer network and does not have sales or other offices in different countries).”