Developers in India say new regulations could hamstring the country's fast-growing open source industry


Open source software developer Praveen Arimbrathodiyil

Open source developers in India are challenging its new Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code. These rules target social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp with moderation regulations and more. But developers say these new rules can also put “unreasonable” compliance burdens on open source projects. See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Developers in India are fighting back against a new set of rules that they say will hinder the country’s fast-growing open source industry.

The government launched the new regulations in February to target major social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, but critics say that their broadness will add an “undue burden” that could threaten the very existence of some open source projects.

In 2019, India was the third-largest hub for open source work, following only the US and China, according to GitHub. But the new rules place “unreasonable” compliance standard’s on the country’s independent projects, an advisory board member of the Software Freedom Law Center in India, Anivar Aravind, told Insider.

Here’s why he and others are fighting against the new regulations:

Multiple organizations have already launched lawsuits against

The India government introduced the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules in February to supersede a similar set of rules released in 2011.

Among other things, the rules require content moderation, a tracing requirement that says platforms must identify the originator of a message if they’re ordered to, and that platforms appoint three officers: one to handle compliance, one for grievances, and one to work with law enforcement.

Over 400 million people in India – of an estimated 450 million smartphone owners total – use WhatsApp, according to research firm Counterpoint. But misinformation on the app has had some deadly consequences. For example, dozens of people in India were killed by mobs in 2018 after rumors and edited videos circulated on WhatsApp about “child-lifters” kidnapping kids across the