The Indian government has announced new social media guidelines On Thursday, these digital media guidelines which were announced by the government can potentially change the social media along with the OTT viewership experience in the most basic ways.
Some key changes are being introduced and have been notified accordingly. These changes will also affect the consumers as well as the companies.
The new rules also take into consideration a three-tier regulation mechanism for the various OTT platforms, these platforms like Netflix and YouTube would be required and asked to self classify the content which they create into a total of 5 categories. These categories would be based on the age suitability of the various audience which is involved.
It has also been notified by the government that the new guidelines for the intermediaries say that some rules were needed in order to hold the companies and the various social media handles which are used nowadays, responsible for the content they create, and also for the misuse and abuse of such media. This will require big tech platforms to set up a stronger grievance redressal mechanism, and also has been asked to appoint various executives in order to coordinate with this law enforcement in India.
The various social media platforms, for instance, Twitter, Facebook, etcetera have been protected under a safe harbor, these guidelines which are introduced would remove the safe harbor which is being provided to these companies and are used to protect them.
The rules have also put forward the idea of a 3 tire regulation mechanism for OTT platforms, in which the platforms would be required to self classify their content into 5 categories which would be based on different age suitabilities.
These policies which are being introduced have asked the world's valuable companies to recalibrate their business with these regulations.
The government has been known to work on these rules since the year 2018, but the drafting of these guidelines was subjected to fresh momentum after some of the instances like the de-platforming of the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, and also the recent spat between the ministry of IT and Twitter, which happen due to the removal of certain accounts which were in connection with the farmers protest.
It has been stated that the social media companies are welcome and can freely perform their businesses in India, given the factor that they would necessarily have to follow the laws which have been set in India, this was said by the IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. It was also stated that the users of social media must be given a forum in order to restore grievances against the misuse and abuse which was caused due to such social media platforms.
1) Social Media
Some of the New guidelines involve the protection of social media through identifying the first originator of the content and the authorities which are considered anti-national.
Appointing a grievance officer who would be responsible to resolve the complaints which are reported.
The complains which have been reported must be reported withing 24 hours and be disposed off within 15 days.
Filing a monthly compliance report on the complaints received and the actions taken regarding those complaints.
2) Digital News
Some changes in the digital news would be that they would follow the Press council of India, Cable TV networks regulation act norms.
There would be self-regulatory bodies in order to oversee the adherence to the code of ethics.
And the I & B ministry would be asked to form a panel for the oversight mechanism.
3) OTT Platforms
The various OTT platforms would be asked to generate a parental lock for any content which has been classified as U/ A 13+ or above
Age verification would be mandatory for the content which would be classified as “ A” ( adult)
And most importantly the self-classified content would be based on the age category, the content created would be divided into 5 age groups.
These rules have been framed as well as notified under the existing Information Technology Act. These new guidelines are essential, and would make the content that is being created by the various creators safe. The government has made the various social media intermediaries more liable for the content which they would be sharing on their respective platforms and if they fail to do so then the safe harbor provision would not apply to them. The safe harbor provisions have been duly defined under section 79 of the IT act.
The new social media code is beneficial. As the social media intermediaries would need to trace the originators of the various messages which would call for incitement to an offense that could be relating to the above or maybe in relation to the various other crimes. The government also has engaged with WhatsApp which is a Facebook- owned messaging platform in order to seek the traceability of certain users. However, this request has been denied by the platform.
The social media companies have also been asked to give the users a chance of an explanation with a fair opportunity as well as reasoning which would be heard before they remove access to their account.
A self-regulatory body that would be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a retired High Court judge, or by any independent person would be formed. This self-regulatory body would ensure the compliance of all the ethics as well as the rules of these online digital media news platforms. The ministry also said that in due course of time an oversight mechanism would also be formulated.