From the Viewsroom

A check on OTT platforms

S Ronendra Singh | Updated on March 14, 2021

The new IT Rules must come into force as early as possible

The government recently notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 in order to make the conduct of service platforms more ethical. And, also, to ensure that they strictly comply with the principles laid down by the Constitution as well as other Indian laws.

The Rules also provide for self-classification of content by the OTT platforms into five age-based categories. Strict compliance with displaying the classification has also been provided for. While the government has some clear agenda of keeping these platforms under check, some argue that the government is trying to control everything. There is also the argument that social media is a threat to the political system because platforms such as Twitter is a communication tool that functions without an interface. And that is why, through the Intermediary Guidelines, the government wants to emphasise the importance of self-regulation by the intermediaries.

For instance, the Rules require social media intermediaries to appoint three officers — Chief Compliance Officer, Grievance Officer and a 24x7 Nodal Contact Person — so that the law of the land can prevail and quick action can be taken; unlike earlier, when a company headquartered in the US said it would take a decision at its own convenience.

The Rules now make it mandatory for these companies to register a grievance within 48 hours of receipt and take a decision and dispose of such grievance within 15 days by the appointed Grievance Redress Officer, who should also mandatorily be a resident in India.

Under the Rules, a demand for the first originator of the messages can be made, and the intermediary would have to only identify the first originator — the actual contents of the messages — but any other information about such individual or information about any other users need not have to be furnished. But this may not be easy as technology keeps evolving. The government has to make sure such rules or amendments come into force as quickly as possible.

Published on March 14, 2021

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