The government on Thursday announced The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 to regulate social media, Over the top (OTT) platforms and digital news media. The new rules for social media companies prescribes, for the first time, provisions for carrying out blocking orders, moderating content, and a three-tire grievance redressal system.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that “social media users must be given a forum to raise their grievances against the abuse and misuse of social media.”
He also said that new rules will be a “soft touch mechanism” for the social media companies and will be implemented with the date of their publications in the gazette except for grievance redressal mechanism significant social media intermediaries which will come into effect three months after publication of the rules.
Here are the centre’s new guidelines for social media
As per the new rules, social media intermediaries must follow due diligence.
Voluntary User Verification Mechanism
Social media users, who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily, must be provided with an appropriate verification mechanism.
Ensure online safety and dignity of users especially women users
Social media companies must disable access within 24 hours of receiving the complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or sexual act or is like impersonation including morphed images, etc.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism
Social media companies must provide a robust grievance redressal mechanism to address complaints from users. It should acknowledge a complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days. Social media intermediaries must the following officers to deal with the complaints
Chief Compliance Officer – This person shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
Nodal Contact Person – This person should have 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
Resident Grievance officer – This person is the first point of contact for the user who wishes to register a complaint.
Social media companies must file a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
Track the first originator of a mischievous message
Social media companies must disclose the first originator of mischievous tweets or messages being asked by the government or court. This is required for prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, or punishment of an offense related to sovereignty and integrity of India.
Provide reason and hear the user
Social media platforms need to give the user a reason and hearing them when seeking to disable their access to the platform. Users must be provided an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.