Indian social media users risk losing online anonymity amid controversial law
The widespread availability of high-speed internet has changed the course of mass communication like never before. While social media platforms are meant to be an extension of our real-world identities, they can provide anonymity for people who need it the most.
Back in 2018, the Indian government proposed legislation that would force platforms such as YouTube, Google, and Facebook to divulge the identities of anonymous users. Although the proposal was met by resistance from privacy advocates and tech companies alike, it appears that the Indian government is planning to go ahead with the law.
Under the new provisions, social media platforms will have to reveal the identities of its users to government agencies, who can then retain the data for up to 180 days. To make matters worse, the government can request the data mentioned above without a court order or warrant. Furthermore, each company will also have to employ a dedicated 'grievance officer' who will serve as a point of contact for the government.
The new rules will apply to all 'social media and messaging' companies. India already has several restrictive internet-related laws in place, but this one is arguably the worst of them all. Even if this law is passed, implementing it will be nothing short of a logistical nightmare because India has well over 500 million internet users.
It will affect India's startup ecosystem the most, as a lot of companies might not have the resources to set up the requisite infrastructure. The proposed legislation is being drafted and should be made public in the coming weeks.