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Wikimedia asks Indian Government to reconsider norms proposed for intermediary liability rules

Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit group that operates Wikipedia and some other projects, has asked the Indian government to reconsider the proposed suggested to the nation’s intermediary liability norms that will influence swathes of organisations and over half a billion consumers use information digitally.

The foundation has even suggested the Indian government to make public the newest suggested changes to the intermediary norms so that all shareholders have an opportunity to take part in a “robust and informed debate about how the internet should be governed in India.”

India proposed changes to intermediary rules (PDF) in late December 2018 and it is anticipated to agree to it in the coming months. Under the proposal, the Indian Ministry of Electronics and IT requires “intermediary” apps — which as per its definition, includes any service with over 5 million users — to establish a local office and have a senior executive in the country who can be held liable for any legal problems.

Amanda Keton, general counsel of Wikimedia Foundation, stated on Thursday that India’s suggested amendments to the intermediary norms may have a significant effect on Wikipedia’s business — as it functions an open editing model that depends on consumers to give new articles and make changes to current articles on Wikipedia — and those of other organisations.

The norms may also make a “significant financial burden” for non-profit technology companies and hinder free expression rights for digital users in the country, she informed. Wikimedia Foundation gave its inhibitions to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Electronics and IT in India. The company also published the letter on its blog for the world to see.

In the open letter published recently, Wikimedia’s Keton reiterated many of those concerns, adding that “neither participants in the consultation nor the public have seen a new draft of these normas since [last year].” She also appealed the government to redefine, how it has in another recently proposed set of rules, the way it classifies an entity as an intermediary as the current version seems to have a far-reaching scope.

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