New IT Rules

New IT Rules: Grievance Portal to Be Launched to Register Complaints on Social Media and OTT Misuse

Indian Government has proposed new IT Rules called the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

The Government of India has made an announcement regarding the new IT Rules. Through these new rules, the Government of India proposes to have 3 tier mechanism for OTT platforms through which OTT and Digital news media have to disclose their details, a dedicated grievance redressal system for digital and OTT platforms will be introduced, and self-regulatory body headed by retired SC or HC judge will be set-up. The Indian Government aims at establishing a new grievance portal where complaints regarding the content on platforms may be registered.

The New IT Rules called “the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021” are expected to come into effect soon. As per the new rules, the ministry will establish an online Grievance Portal, as the central repository for receiving and processing all grievances from the public in respect of the Code of Ethics, within three months of the commencement of the rules.

Important Details on the Grievance Portal as Per New IT Rules

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says that the Government of India felt there was a need for a dedicated portal where citizens could register their grievances. “The government welcomes criticism and right to dissent but it is very important for the users of social media to have a forum to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media,” he said. Some of the important details on the portal are as follows:

  • Any person having a grievance regarding content published on social media or OTT platforms in relation to the Code of Ethics may register their grievance on the Grievance Portal.
  • The portal will then generate and issue an acknowledgment of the grievance a the benefit of the complainant within 24 hours of its registration, and electronically direct the grievance to the applicable entity for addressing the grievance, and also refer such grievance to the Ministry and the self-regulating body for information and record.
  • The applicable entity will have to address the grievance and inform the complainant of its decision within 15 days of the registration.
  • If the decision of the applicable entity is not communicated to the complainant within the stipulated 15 days, the grievance will be escalated to the self regulatory body headed by retired SC or HC judge.
  • Suppose a complainant is not satisfied with the reply provided by the applicable entity, they may appeal on the Grievance portal to the self-regulating body of which such entity is a member within 15 days of receiving such decision.

“The social media platforms upon being asked either by the court or by the Government authority will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous tweet or a message,” added the minister with regard to the authority of the self-regulating body.

Initial Reactions on the New IT Rules

“With increasing global scrutiny of online social media platforms and content therein the government has brought out much awaited guidelines to regulate content on social media and OTT platforms. The guidelines seem to applicable to most intermediaries including social media platforms, OTT platforms, messaging applications, digital and online media publishers. However, intermediaries dealing in e-commerce and business have been kept out of the ambit of guidelines. Few significant things mandated by guidelines include additional conditions on significant social media intermediaries which include appointment of Chief Compliance officer and Grievance officer in India who shall be responsible for compliance of the guidelines. Further Guidelines are also an attempt regulate digital and news media platforms and journalists creating content for their social media channels with significant number of followers will also be regulated. Guidelines prescribe a detailed code on the regulation of content on OTT platforms with three tier grievance redressal mechanism and a code of ethics. Lastly the messaging applications will be mandated to disclose the details of originator of the malicious content. Regulations are applicable even on platforms which do may not have physical presence in India but are conducting business activity India by targeting Indian consumers,” said Rajat Prakash, Managing Partner, Athena Legal.

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