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Musician TM Krishna Moves Madras HC Against New IT Rules

Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna challenged the new rules as “unconstitutional” and in violation of the Information Technology Act of 2000. 

Challenging the centre’s new digital media rules – the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 – as “unconstitutional” and in violation of the Information Technology Act of 2000, carnatic vocalist TM Krishna has moved the Madras High Court.

Three weeks have been given to the centre to respond to the plea by a two-member bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

Mr Krishna, who won the Ramon Magsaysay award in 2016, said in his petition: “For me, privacy, like music, is an experience. When I think of privacy, I think of life, intimacy, discovery, security, happiness, lack of fear and freedom to create. I think of liberty, dignity and choice, as facets inherent in me, not just as an artist but as a human being.”

“Without privacy, it is impossible to create and perform. The new IT rules offend my rights as an artist and cultural commentator by both imposing a chilling effect on free speech and by impinging on my right to privacy,” Mr Krishna said.

“These rules, which are vague and indeterminate, will thwart artists from raising difficult questions against existing aesthetic, gender and caste hierarchies in Carnatic music and will thwart dissenters who question prevailing cultural mores,” he stressed.

The rules would quell creativity and make it impossible for a person to think imaginatively, or beyond conventional boundaries, and create art that is politically and socially salient, he further added.

The petition added that the rule, which enables social media intermediaries to trace originators of information on their platform, is “vaguely worded” and this will result in these intermediaries adopting “tools that are unmindful of privacy” in their effort to comply with the rules

Mr Krishna also said the Digital Media Ethics Code part of the new rules, which concern OTT platforms and online news publishers will result in “over-censorship and snuffing out dissenting and contrarian voices under pressured wielded by majoritarian groups”.

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