In December 2018, the Indian government proposed changes to its Intermediaries Guidelines that govern how websites in India with more than 5 million users will operate and host content in India. According to the proposed amendments, such intermediaries are required to:
- Set up a permanent registered office in India with a physical address
- Appoint a nodal person of contact for coordination with law enforcement agencies
Amanda Keton, general counsel of Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit group that operates Wikipedia, has written an open letter to the minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, expressing her concerns.
She writes that Wikipedia operates on an open editing model, and the required provisions could lead to a “significant financial burden” on nonprofit technology organizations. It could also limit free expression rights for internet users in the country.
The proposed changes in the Intermediaries Guidelines intend to make the internet safer for Indian citizens by formulating rules for it. The rules also require intermediaries to automatically filter out unlawful information and content by deploying automated tools.
Other nonprofit organizations, including Mozilla and Github, also wrote a joint letter saying that the upcoming rules “would significantly expand surveillance requirements on internet services.”
Last month, Wikipedia received 771 million page views from India, which is its fifth-largest market in the world.
In her open letter, Keton has asked the Ministry to release a new draft of rules which take into consideration all the expressed concerns.