Explained: New rules for digital media, OTT and social media in India

These rules, which are called the government has announced new rules for social media platforms, OTT players and digital media. They will regularize the use and abuse of popular online platforms. Here’s a simple breakdown of the new government guidelines.

What are the news rules for social media, digital media and OTT ?

The information technology rules for 2021 apply not just to social media firms and intermediaries, but they also apply to digital media websites, news websites which have come up in the last few years and are online only and they also apply to OTT platforms, which is over-the-top content, players, such as, Netflix or Amazon Prime video ALT Balaji. Everyone is covered by this new rules, which also include a digital media ethics code.

Why has the government put out these rules ?

The government said that they have put out these laws because they felt that there is some regulations which is needed for social media companies. This is a topic of debate worldwide not just in India. Various countries are taking different kinds of path regarding how to regulate big-tech companies.

The government says that they’ve been receiving a lot of complaints about, you women being harassed, their photos being shared, people being defamed on the internet and nobody seems to be doing something about it. That’s why they have come up with this code. They want companies to self-regulate. And in order to ensure that users are not hurt,

What do the rules say about social media intermediaries

With regard to social media intermediaries, the rules actually taking away some of the state harbour that they typically enjoy under the IT ACt, and and holding them more accountable for the content that is uploaded on the sides by their users. with regard to social media intermediaries, the rules are actually making a distinction between what is the significant one and what is the regular social media intermediary. The number which will decide who becomes a significant social media intermediary has not yet been decided by the government, but it’s likely to be someone with more than 50 lakh users. That will mean that most of the big players, will be covered under significant social media intermediary as part of the rules.

The rules also call for social media intermediaries to have a grievance officer, a compliance officer to have monthly reports show whether they’ve compliant with some of the complaints that have been against them. It basically says that users can raise issues if they feel that there is content which is against them, which is defamatory. And it basically says the social media intermediaries cannot host content which is raising questions about the Integrity of India, content, which is sexually explicit, content which harms women and children, all of that, kind of Which is typically the legal is, cannot be hosted by them and they need to proactively make sure that this is removed and make a monthly report to show that they are actually doing what they say.

How soon do companies have to remove content ?

Companies will also have to remove prohibited content within 36 hours of receiving a notice from the government. Remember this includes content which is threatening security of India, harming children, women is racially or ethnically objectionable, those with gambling, promoting money-laundering, so any of that which is contrary to laws India that content will have to be removed within 36 hours of a notice from the government.

How soon do companies have to resolve complaints ?

companies will have to actually acknowledge these reports are complaints from users within 24 hours. The grievance officer move will have to ensure that something is done about it and they are resolved within 15 days at the very least.

How will it impact ent-to-end encryption services such as WhatsApp?

They we’ll have to give the originator of a message if and when the need arises for such issues. This means that WhatsApp might be required to break into an encryption because end-to-end encryption means that nobody can read the contents of the message and they don’t even know who’s sending what message to whom. So WhatsApp that doesn’t actually collect that data. And this poses a new set of problems for the. As I remember, it has over 500 million users in India and still very popular despite the uproar over the privacy policy. we’ll have to see how WhatsApp actually adapt to these new rules and what it will mean for other end-to-end encrypted apps such as signal, which is also gaining popularity in India

What are the new rules for OTT platforms ?

OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime video, they will also have to keep a tighter watch on the content that they are uploading on their platforms. The government says this is done to ensure that there’s some kind of Level Playing Field because films are typically censored in India as a censor board. The government says that, they want them to self-regulate they should categories the content based on whether it is suitable for 13 years old, 16 year olds or whether it’s meant for adults. They have have to make sure that adult content is not seen by children.They should have parental locks. According to the rules, anyone under 18 is considered to be a child and they will have to add labels to content

How will the rules impact users?

With regard to user, the rules are designed to empower them. If you feel that your content has been unfairly blocked on, Say, a particular platform, you can raise an issue with the grievance officer. Companies will be required to tell you what they’ve done on the basis of your complaint as well. So, all of that might actually help users. If you find that someone is posting content, Say, for women. If their personal photos are being shared on a platform, they can actually raised a complaint to the platform and say “hey! you need to do something about it.” And eventually ask, was something actually done about it? DID the company even comply with the complaint? because very often users don’t know who to turn to when, say, intimate, pictures of them are being shared on a platform or say, rumours are being spread about them. So In that way it can give him empower Users. But it also means that users are also need to keep in mind what content that they are uploading on these platforms. They also need to make sure that they are not uploading some anything illegal.


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