Govt announces rules to regulate digital content, says double standards unacceptable | Top points

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The Centre on Thursday announced new guidelines to regulate digital content, including social media and OTT streaming services, to curb the misuse of these platforms.

The new rules have been announced by the Centre to “establish a soft touch progressive institutional mechanism with a level playing field featuring a Code of Ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework for news publishers and OTT platforms on the digital media.” The Code of Ethics will be applicable to online news and digital media entities, OTT platforms and digital media.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar shared details of new rules to regulate social media, while warning that “double standards of social media will not be acceptable.”

Here are top points as govt moves to regulate digital content:

1.Saying that concerns have been raised about rampant abuse of social media platforms, spread of fake news, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the ministry prepared a draft in December 2018. “There will be two categories -- intermediary which can be social media intermediary and significant social media intermediary.”

The three-level grievance redressal mechanism established for self-regulation to enforce the Code of Ethics:

>> Level-I: Self-regulation by publishers;
>> Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers
>> Level-III: Oversight mechanism.

The content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women will have to be removed in 24 hours. The minister said the central government will notify a number for a significant social media intermediary soon. “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.”

Empowering ordinary users of social media. Must have robust grievance redressal mechanism instituting complaint within 24 hrs&redressal in 15 days. Must have chief compliance officer,nodal contact person&resident grievance officer for significant social media: Union Min RS Prasad pic.twitter.com/8tLrvIbbXU

— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021

2. Ravi Shankar Prasad said if there are complaints against dignity of users, particularly women, the platform will be required to remove the objectionable content within 24 hours after registration of complaint. “This is designed to respect dignity of women,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

3. The Centre said social media platforms on being asked by the court or government will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischief info. “Social media platforms upon being asked either by a court order or a govt authority will be required to disclose the first originator of mischievous tweet or message as the case may be. This should be in relation to sovereignty of India, security of state, relations with foreign states, rape etc:,” the minister added.

This should be only in relation to sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, or rape, sexually explicit content etc: Union Electronics & Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (2/2)

— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021

The grievance redressal official must be resident in India and monthly compliance reports have to be filed by social media platforms. “This should be only in relation to sovereignty & integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, or rape, sexually explicit content etc.”

4. On urgent cases, the government will set up an oversight mechanism at its level to deal with a case where immediate action is required.

5. Publishers of news on digital media will be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

For OTT platforms:

6. A three-level mechanism for OTT platforms will be implemented, Union minister Prakash Javadekar told media persons. “OTT and digital news media will have to disclose their details. We are not mandating registration, we are seeking information.

7. The will be a grievance redressal system in OTT platforms and digital portals. The OTT platforms will have a self-regulating body, headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category, the government said.

There should be a grievance redressal system in OTT platforms and digital portals. OTT platforms will have to have a self-regulating body, headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar pic.twitter.com/PcechR10wc

— ANI (@ANI) February 25, 2021

8. Social media platforms must have a provision for the voluntary verification mechanism of the users, the Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The rules have been notified under Section 87 of the Information Technology Act.

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