India in recent times has emerged as a humongous market for smartphones and the number of internet consumers in India has passed the 700 million mark which is double the population of the USA in 2020. And with the rise of internet consumers, India has become a huge market for tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and many more. In this article, we are going to understand the relation of IT rules 2021 and social media
According to some credible portals, which publish analysis about social media platforms, there are 530 million active users of Whatsapp 410 million Facebook users, 448 million Youtube users, and 17.5 million active Twitter users in India. These tech giants are now a part of common Indian life and play a big role in strengthening the biggest democracy of the world.
But with a huge user base in India, these social media platforms have brought some problems also. The circulation of fake news, cyber frauds, trolling, obscene and pornographic content, and content that is considered to be anti-India shared on these websites are some issues that these platforms are unable to eradicate.
These issues have compelled the Government of India to bring a set of new rules for these social media platforms and digital websites and news channels. The government of India notified these rules in February 2021 under the name Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 by exercising their power under section 87 of IT act 2000.
The notification states that social media can be used for asking questions and criticize but they need to follow the Constitution and laws of India. The notification also termed the new rules as progressive and liberal.
The new rules classified social media intermediaries into two types that are social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. Some rules are common for both categories and some are different for each one of them,
A social media intermediary is an entity that acts as a bridge between the users and the content on their platforms. According to the new IT rules 2021, social media intermediaries with users of more than 50 lakhs would be considered as significant social media intermediaries and are directed to implement some rules different from social media intermediaries having fewer users than 50 lakh.
Let’s first discuss the common rules for both categories of social media intermediaries who are instructed to follow due diligence.
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New IT Rules 2021
i)The social media intermediaries must set up a grievance redressal mechanism and must ensure the dignity and safety of users, especially women users.
ii) Intermediaries must restrict the access of a post or content which is under question within 24 hours of complaint. All social media intermediaries are commanded to bring a voluntary user verification mechanism with a visible mark of verification
iii) They are ordered to remove unlawful information upon receiving actual knowledge in a form of an order by a court of being notified by an appropriate government platform.
These were the rules made for all social media intermediaries in India. Now let’s have a look at some rules which are made only for significant social media intermediaries :
i) They must appoint a nodal contact person who is a resident of India for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
ii) They are ordered to employ a resident of India as a grievance officer to perform functions mentioned under the grievance redressal mechanism.
iii) They are compelled to appoint a chief compliance officer who will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules and regulations.
iv) All significant social media intermediaries are instructed to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of the complaints raised by the users and the action taken on them by the intermediary.
v) Significant social media intermediaries which deal with messages are required to enable a mechanism to identify the originator of the information on their platform.
Apart from the social media intermediaries , certain rules have also been made for OTT and digital media platforms.
These platforms must classify content on their own as
- U (universal)
These platforms are also been instructed to administer parental lock for content above U/A(13+) certification and reliable age verification for A-certified content.
Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code
You can refer to the official notification of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 published by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology from the link.
The new rules, at first glance, seem to be a great step by the Government for the safety and well-being of its citizens while surfing the internet. But this new law has attracted controversy due to some rules and consultation done before drafting the rules.
The first issue with the new law is that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology invited public comments on the drafted rules and received only 171 comments favoring the new rules and it received 80 counter comments, Comparing these numbers with the number of people access to the internet in India is like comparing the size of an ant with that of a dinosaur.
The government is also accused of sabotaging the fundamental right of privacy of a citizen of India by forcing a social media platform to give information about a certain individual or group of individuals circulating a message and this rule can be used as a method to suppress dissent against the government.
Hence the new IT rules 2021 have made a great impact on the business of social media platforms in India and have made changes that are welcomed by many and by are criticized by many people. For more tech-related news and information, you can visit our website.