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In the digital age, the general public depends on social media for news, entertainment, and so on. People’s dependence on social media is very dangerous at the moment, as there is a high risk of it being abused. For this reason, the need was felt for strict rules for any form of communication of information through intermediaries. Accordingly, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology published the 2018 Draft Information Technology Standards (Interim Guidelines) for public consultation. Accordingly, on 25 February this year, the Government published the rules on information technology (Guidelines for Intermediation and Code of Ethics for Digital Media), 2021. The 2021 rules replace the information technology rules (intermediary guidelines) 2011. The previous set of rules that were only applicable to intermediaries. The new rules also significantly expanded the area of intermediary oversight, in addition to incorporating online news content and Over-The-Top (“OTT”) platforms.
Highlights of the 2021 regulations
Due diligence: Rules, 2021, discusses the due diligence aspect that intermediaries must obey. It also clarifies the scope of the secure port protections described in section 79 of the Information Technology Act 2000. Per se rules, intermediaries must exercise due diligence, such as:
(ii) By court or government order, block access to illegal information within 36 hours.
(iii) The intermediary shall not publish any information that is contrary to the interests, unity, integrity and sovereignty of the state.
(iv) Within 24 hours after receiving a complaint, the intermediary must take all appropriate measures to disable access to material of a non-consensual and sexual nature.
(v) Identification of the first originator of the information.
(vi) After canceling or withdrawing a user’s registration, the information collected for the registration must be stored for 180 days.
(vii) A grievance officer should be appointed to monitor victims’ complaints and their information should be posted on the intermediary’s website or application.
(viii) Mandatory publication of a monthly compliance report containing details of the complaints received and the measures taken in this regard.
(ix) According to the rules, intermediaries must appoint a compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a resident claims officer.
(x) In addition, for social media intermediaries there is an additional condition for “Voluntary User Verification”.
(xi) The meaningful social intermediary shall “endeavor to deploy” technology-based measures, such as automated tools or other frameworks, to proactively identify any information that represents any act or stimulation, whether explicit or implicit with respect to to rape, sexual abuse or child conduct. and information identical to content that has been deleted / disabled.
Ethical code: The Code of Ethics applies to digital media publishers, including news and current affairs content providers and OTT platforms. The 2021 rules state that news publishers in digital media must comply with the Journalistic Conduct Rules and the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act of 1995. For OTT platforms, the necessary requirements are content demarcation. in age-appropriate categories. [Universal, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+,
and Adult], introducing an age verification system for access to adult content and accessibility to content for people with disabilities. The publisher of news and current affairs material, as well as a publisher of selected content online, must notify the Ministry of the details of their entity, as well as provide information and documentation necessary to facilitate communication and coordination.
Claims repair system: According to Rule 10, a grievance redress mechanism has been established. It has three levels:
(i) Level 1: publisher self-regulation: This level involves the claims repair mechanism established by the publisher. Rule 11 states that an applicable entity must designate a claims repair agent who must resolve the claim it has received within 15 days. The said official would also serve as a point of contact for complaints related to the Code of Ethics.
(ii) Level 2: Self-regulatory mechanism: Rule 12 establishes one or more self-regulatory bodies made up of publishers. Therefore, this stage is the self-regulation of the mentioned organisms. These bodies must be registered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This body will monitor the publisher’s compliance with the Code of Ethics, resolve complaints that the publisher has not resolved within 15 days, and hear appeals filed by complainants against the publisher’s decision.
(iii) Level 3 – Supervision mechanism: there is the formation of the supervision mechanism, which guarantees adherence to the Code of Ethics by publishers. This mechanism sets up an interdepartmental committee to hear complaints. The authorized officer will lead the committee, which will listen to and investigate complaints or complaints received from level I / level II or from those submitted to the MIB.
Information lock: In the event of an emergency, authorized agents may investigate digital media material and the Secretary, MIB, may issue an interim order to block the use of such content. The final blocking order will only be approved after the Interdepartmental Committee has given its approval.
The rules of information technology (intermediation guidelines and digital media code of ethics) of 2021 are a step towards the digital area to protect the rights of the general public and ensure justice for all. The new rules aim to establish a self-regulatory framework for online intermediaries, social networking sites, broadcasting services and digital media companies. However, it has gone through several rounds of criticism for going far beyond all that is allowed in democracy and contravening the fundamental right to freedom of expression and expression. The Delhi High Court has not yet resolved the growing debate over the Rules of the Independent Journalism and Gold Foundation against the Union of India.
The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. You need to seek specialized advice on your specific circumstances.
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Standards on intermediaries and digital media 2021
Khaitan & Co.
The Central Government, on February 25, 2021, notified the information technology rules 2021 under the Information Technology Act of 2000, which will replace the information technology rules of 2011