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Details on originator of 'mischievous info' needed:  Govt releases new rules for social media, OTT platforms

These new rules have been introduced to address rampant abuse of social media platforms, the spread of fake news, among other concerns says IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Published: 25th February 2021 02:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th February 2021 04:45 PM   |  A+A-

Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B Minister   Prakash Javadekar address a press conference . (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar address a press conference . (Photo | Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

By Online Desk

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued new guidelines for Over The Top platforms (OTT) and social media companies to curb their misuse.

These new rules have been introduced to address rampant abuse of social media platforms, the spread of fake news, among other concerns, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Here's what will be implemented for social media platforms:

  • Social media platforms on being asked by court or govt will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischief information.

  • This information may be required if there's an apparent threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to rape, sexually explicit material etc.

  • Offenders will be found punishable. 

  • Social media platforms will be classified under two categories - social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries - with the latter being subject to greater obligations.

  • In cases where significant social media intermediaries remove or disable access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same shall be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such action.

  • The ministry will notify a list of significant social media intermediaries soon and set a benchmark number for such classification.

  • Further, the significant platforms will have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a Nodal Contact Person, a Resident Grievance Officer, as per the Code of Ethics.

  • The grievance officer appointed register complaints in 24 hours and resolve them within fifteen days from its receipt, an official statement said. This grievance redressal official must be a resident of India.

  • The platforms would also have to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.

  • Content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women on social media must be removed in 24 hours.

What's in store for OTT platforms?

  • The OTT platforms, called as the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).

  • As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as "A".

  • The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme.

  • The new guidelines mandate a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country

  • Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the government has decided to have a three-stair mechanism for OTT platforms

  • OTT and digital news media will have to disclose their details for sake of transparency

  • OTT platforms will have to have a self-regulating body, headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category

Content on OTT platforms had recently fuelled controversy, leading to public outcry and the booking of makers of some programmes including Amazon Prime Video's 'Tandav', 'Mirzapur', and Netflix's 'A Suitable Boy' among others. 

The rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette, except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect 3 months after publication of these rules.

(With inputs from agencies)



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