Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, notified

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 has been notified by the Government. The Rules empower ordinary users of social media, embodying a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievance. It also establish a soft-touch self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and three tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media.

The Rules have been notified under section 87 of Information Technology Act. Key features of the Rules are mentioned below:

  1. Due Diligence to be observed by an Intermediary and additional due diligence has been provided for social media intermediary.
    Note: an intermediary includes websites, apps and portals of social media networks, media sharing websites, blogs, online discussion forums and other such functionally similar intermediaries.
  2. The Rules empowers the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to implement Part-III of the Rules which prescribe the following:
    • Code of Ethics for online news, OTT platforms and digital media: This prescribes the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.
    • Self-Classification of Content: 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). 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 enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.
    • Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.
  • A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation.
    • Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers;
    • Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers;
    • Level-III: Oversight mechanism.
  • Self-regulation by the Publisher: Publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it. The officer shall take decision on every grievance received by it within 15 days.
  • Self-Regulatory Body: There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members. Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not be been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.
  • Oversight Mechanism: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will formulate an oversight mechanism. It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

Read the Rules HERE

Source: Press Information Bureau

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