New Delhi, May 27: The Information and the Broadcasting ministry on Thursday gave 15 days time to online news portals and OTT platforms to comply with Centre’s new rules regarding social media issued in February this year. The government announced the rules to soft-touch progressive institutional mechanism with a level-playing field featuring a Code of Ethics.
The rules will also provide a three-tier grievance redressal framework for news sites and OTT platforms. The Code of Ethics will be applicable to online news, OTT platforms and digital media. As per the new rules, content affecting "the sovereignty and integrity of India" will be banned. Twitter Requests IT Ministry To Consider 3-Month Extension To Comply With India’s New Guidelines, Says Concerned Over Potential Threat to Freedom of Expression.
As per the new guidelines, content involving nudity and morphed pictures of women will have to be removed in 24 hours after a complaint is raised. “They will have to have a grievance redressal mechanism, a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and disposal in 15 days,” reported India Today, quoting IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying.
Meanwhile, publishers of news on digital media are required to follow the norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India. They also need to adhere to the guidelines of Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act. Twitter Issues Statement on New IT Rules in India and Raid on Its Office, Alleges Threat to Freedom of Speech.
Rights activists are criticizing the new rules. According to them, these rules will undermine freedom of expression. The government on Wednesday staunchly defended its new digital rules. It said that saying the requirement of messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to disclose origin of flagged messages does not violate privacy, and went on to seek a compliance report from social media firms.
The new rules require large social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person and resident grievance officer. Non-compliance with rules would result in these social media companies losing their intermediary status that provides them exemptions and certain immunity from liabilities for any third-party information and data hosted by them. In other words, they could be liable for criminal action in case of complaints.