Center issues new guidelines to regulate social media and news portal

The Center released a sweeping set of rules on Thursday to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital media platforms.

This move will virtually place these platforms, for the first time, under government control.

According to the new guidelines called ‘Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021’, large social media companies will have to remove illegal content within a specific period of time after receiving a court order or notice. by an appropriate government agency.

Publishers of digital media news would be required to abide by the “Standards of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and Program Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act”, which , according to the government, is necessary to provide a “level playing field between offline (print, TV) and digital media”.

Key points of the new guidelines:

–Social media giants will be required to appoint compliance officers based in India. If they remove content, they will be required to notify users, give reasons for their removal and listen to them.

–Social media sites must disclose the “first author” of any malicious posts. “Who started the mischief? You have to say, “. This would apply to the distribution of content for which the sentence can be up to five years.

–The oversight mechanism will include a committee made up of representatives from the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Interior, I&B, Law, IT and Women and Child Development. He will have “suo motu power” to convene hearings into complaints of breaches of the code of ethics if he so chooses.

–The government will designate an officer of the rank of joint secretary or above as an “authorized official” who can direct the blocking of content. If an appeals body finds that the content violates the law, it has the power to send the content to a government-controlled committee for blocking orders to be issued.

–Self-rating for streaming services on 13+, 16+, or adult content based on age, gender, violence, and nudity. A mechanism to ensure that children do not access content that is not approved for them.

–Digital news media will follow the rules of the Press Council of India. The new Internet sites must be registered on the site of the Ministry of Information and Audiovisual.

-The rules prohibit social media content that is defamatory, obscene, libellous, racist and harmful to minors, threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India and its links with other other countries. Social media sites must remove or disable offensive or illegal content within 36 hours of notification or court order.

–Companies must appoint a Complaints Officer to receive, acknowledge and resolve complaints within one month. The tech giants will also have to appoint grievance officers.

–An intermediary must, within 24 hours of a complaint, remove or disable access to illegal or offensive content.

–A mechanism for applying the Code of Ethics at three levels: self-regulation; self-regulation by self-regulatory bodies; government oversight mechanism.