Due Diligence & Redressal: Takeaways Of New Guidelines To Regulate Social Media Content & OTT Platforms

  • Lawbeat News Network
  • 02:54 PM, 25 Feb 2021

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 today with Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shri Prakash Javadekar addressing a press conference.

The Code pertains to matters relating to due diligence by intermediaries and lays  down a code of ethics in relation to digital and online media (publishers of news and online curated content).

The Guidelines stipulate due diligence to be practiced by Intermediaries which are classified into:

1) Social Media Intermediaries (SMI)
2) Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMI)

Every Social Media Intermediary (SMI) to practice due diligence which will include:

A. Publishing privacy policy, user agreement prominently on website and/ or application;

B. Periodic information to users that it has the right to terminate the access or usage rights on account of non-compliance

Every Significant Social Media Intermediary [SSMI] to practice additional due diligence:

 1. Appointment of resource persons:
a. Chief Compliance Officer:

  • Intermediary to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer (COC) responsible for ensuring compliance with Act & Rules
  • The COC is required to be a resident of India
  • The COC will be liable for any proceedings relating to any relevant third-party information, data or communication link made available or hosted by that intermediary

b. Nodal Contact Person:

  • Intermediary to appoint a nodal contact person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies and officers  & to ensure compliance to their orders and requisitions
  • Nodal Contact Persons shall be employee of the intermediary and shall be a resident of India

c. Resident Grievance Officers:

  • To Effectuate Grievance Redressal

2. Publication of periodic compliance reports

  • Every month with list of specific communication links or parts of information that intermediary has removed or disabled access to in pursuance of any proactive monitoring

3. Enable Identification of First originator of Information:

Those Significant Social Media Intermediaries providing Messaging services will enable identification of the first originator of the information on its computer resource as may be required by court order or in terms of order passed by competent authority under Section 69 of the IT Rules, 2009.

4. Deployment of technology-based measures to identify information that depicts sexual crimes

5. Physical contact address of SSMI’s to be published on website and/or application

6. All users registering for services from India to voluntarily verify accounts by Indian Mobile Number

The guidelines further stipulate a Mechanism for redressal of Grievances by the SSMI's. In terms of this Grievance Redressal mechanism;

  • User or victim may make complaint against violations
  • Compliant to be acknowledged within 24 hours and resolution to be effectuated within 15 days from date of receipt
  • Receipt and acknowledgement of any order, notice or direction issued by Appropriate Government, any competent authority or a court of competent jurisdiction

Grievance Redressal in case of nudity/ morphing:

  • Remove or Disable content which prima facie exposes private area of individual, shows partial or full duty or depicts individual in sexual act within 24 hours
  • Includes artificially morphed images

Power to notify removal and/or disable access of unlawful information:

- Intermediary shall not host, store or publish any unlawful information, which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interests and sovereignty of India , friendly relations with foreign States, or public order, or causes incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence or prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting other nation;

- Appropriate Government has authority to order removal or disable access to any information, which is in contravention of the Rules;

- Intermediary to order removal/ disable access to that information as early as possible, no later than 36 hours.