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India Government’s New IT Rules for Social Media & Digital Platforms

by | May 28, 2021 | Digital | 0 comments

News of impending ban of various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and OTT platforms have been doing the rounds since Wednesday. The reason is the new Information Technology rules that is going to be in force from 26th May 2021. Simply put, you can be removed from your social media platforms any time from now on. With the new Information Technology rules, the Govt. of India has ordered online platforms to take extra measures to remove accounts with content against the sovereignty of India, security of the state, or ‘public order’ within 24 hrs.

What the Govt.’s New IT Rules is All About?

On February 25, 2021, the Govt. of India has introduced the revised guidelines of Information Technology Rules or Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code. The released guideline is intended to make the social media platforms responsible for the content they allow on their platforms. Platforms were given 3 months to comply with the regulations which ended on 25th May 2021. The Ministry of Electronics and IT oversees the regulatory framework for social media platforms and also OTT platforms.

Key Points of the New IT Rules for Social Media, Digital & OTT Platforms:

  • Offensive content to be removed within 24 hours in response to complaints.
  • The originator of any viral mischievous content has to be identified and presented when the Govt. asks for details.
  • Platforms to assign Chief Complaint Officer, Nodal Contact Person, and Resident Grievance Officer residing in India.
  • A monthly compliance report to the Ministry of Electronics and IT. That includes lists of complaints issued and resolved and details of removed contents.
  • Platforms to delete any offensive content flagged by authorities (Govt.) within 36 hours.
  • OTT platforms will classify their content into five categories: U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Parental locks to be implemented for U/A 13+.
  • Digital news publishers follow the journalistic norms of the Press Council of India and the programme code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation.
  • Introduce a 3-level grievance redressal mechanism of self-regulation by the publishers, self-regulating bodies, and oversight mechanism.
  • Lack of compliance with the new rules could result in these platforms losing their intermediary position, banned from operating in India, and initiation of criminal suits.

Response of the Social, Digital & OTT Platforms:

India’s home-grown application Koo App has agreed to operate according to the new IT rules. Govt. of India, however, indicates the possible ban of these platforms if they don’t comply with the new guidelines. Sources have also said that some platforms are seeking more time to act on the rules, while others are waiting for approval from their headquarters.

WhatsApp, the US-based instant messaging app rejects one of its regulations citing it to be a violation of privacy rights. Recently, the company has filed a lawsuit against the new IT rules in Delhi High Court.

Facebook has said that the new guideline is being carefully studied and it will come to a conclusion following discussions with the Govt. OTT platform Amazon Prime has adapted the new regulations ahead of its deadline. Platforms like Twitter, Netflix, and Hotstar are yet to comment on this matter.

Are the New IT Rules Good or Bad?

Pros and cons of this act.

Pros:

  1. This would stop the circulation of fake news over the internet.
  2. Users and platforms will be held more accountable for the content that they post and share.
  3. Age-appropriate content for children will prevent them from watching harmful content on the platforms.

Cons:

  1. Violation of freedom of speech given by the Constitution of India (Article 19).
  2. Govt.’s interference will lead to violation of privacy rights (of messaging applications, in particular).

What do you think about this guideline? Will it be good or bad? Let us know in the comments below.

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