The Central government has set new rules to regulate digital content and streaming platforms. This will include an oversight mechanism involving several ministries and a code of ethics that bans content affecting “the sovereignty and integrity of India” and that which threatens national security.
The oversight mechanism, according to the draft, will include a committee with representatives from the ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Home, I&B, Law, IT and Women and Child Development. This new law is to be drafted under The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 prescribes, for the first time, how digital news organisations, social media platforms and OTT streaming services will be regulated.
The new OTT law states, bars content that is defamatory, obscene, libelous, racist, harmful to minors, threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India and its ties with other countries. Social media sites have to remove or disable offensive or illegal content within 36 hours of being notified or of a court order. Social media messaging sites have to enable tracking of the first originator of information.
The intermediary has to, within 72 hours, provide information to the government agency authorised to investigate cyber security incidents and violation of the law.
Companies have to appoint a grievance officer to receive, acknowledge and resolve complaints within a month. An intermediary has to, within 24 hours of a complaint, remove or disable access to content that is illegal or offensive.
A three-tier mechanism to enforce the Code of Ethics: self-regulation; self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies, government’s oversight mechanism.
An online grievance portal to receive and process all grievances from the public on any violation of the Code of Ethics and a grievance redressal officer. The grievance has to be addressed within 15 days.