What are the brand new IT guidelines and can they arrive into impact tomorrow?

Big tech companies have been in conflict with governments around the world for some time. In India, although the center introduced new rules for social media and digital content earlier this year on Feb.25, and gave all social media and Over The Top (Over The Top) platforms three months to adhere to, it is many still to do.

What do the rules suggest?

According to the center, the rules set out a soft-touch self-regulatory architecture and code of ethics, as well as a three-tier complaint resolution mechanism for news publishers, OTT platforms and digital media.

Digital media news publishers would have to adhere to the Press Council of India’s journalistic behavioral standards and programming code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act to level the playing field between offline (print, TV) and digital media

The rules instruct online platforms to remove content flagged by authorities within 36 hours. Social media platforms must disclose the author of a post that threatens to endanger the sovereignty and security of the nation.

In addition, OTT platforms would have to divide the content themselves into five age-based categories: U (Universal), U / A 7+, U / A 13+, U / A 16+ and A (adult). and implement parental controls for content classified as U / A 13+ or higher

Other conformities include the appointment of an India-based Grievance Redressal Officer who is responsible for resolving the complaints received, a Chief Compliance Officer who ensures compliance with the Information Technology Act of 2000 and the Intermediaries Rules, and a node contact person for the 24 hour coordination with law enforcement agencies

In addition, an oversight mechanism will include a committee with representatives from the areas of foreign affairs, home affairs, I&B, law, defense, information technology and women’s and child development. The committee will have “suo moto powers” to convene hearings on complaints about violations of the Code of Ethics, if necessary.

Why were they introduced?

The 2021 rules come from Section 87 of the Information Technology Act of 2000 and were drawn up by the Center with the help of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Their goal was to hold social and digital media companies accountable for the content posted on their websites.

What if the companies fail to comply?

According to the government, every social media broker with 50 lakh registered users is a “significant social media broker” and would have to comply with the regulations. Otherwise, they can be prosecuted and their intermediary status can cease.

How did companies react?

Companies headquartered in the United States have asked for more time to make a decision. An Indian messaging platform Koo has reportedly complied with the new rules. More recently, on Tuesday, Facebook reportedly said it “wants to comply with the new guidelines”.

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