On Thursday, Feb 25, 2021, a few guidelines were released by the Central Government of India to regulate the most controversial platforms like Social Media and other Over-The-Top (OTT) media platforms to restrict the misuse of content on their platforms. The rule was mandated, controversially, due to an ongoing dispute of the Centre with Twitter regarding the dismissal of content & misinformation from their platforms about the ongoing farmers protests.
The ’Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code’ planned by the centre was, allegedly, influenced by other various countries who have tried to take tighter control over big and powerful tech firms.
The drafted rules aim to form a three-level grievance redressal mechanism which will involve two levels of self regulation and the final level will include an oversight under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The new regulations guidelines will mandate the disclosure of the ‘First Originator’ of the disputed & mischievous tweet or message on the platform of the social media intermediaries. This means that the social media intermediary will be required to disclose the originator of the mischievous tweet or message on their platform upon being asked by the Government. This will ensure the safety and dignity of the users, especially women, by making it a compulsion to remove or disable access to a disputed content within 24 hours of any complaint against violating an individual’s privacy.
The guidelines also has provisions relating to the self classification of content into 5 categories based on age namely: U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult), and Voluntary verification mechanism of users under which any user denied access to the said social media platform can seek reason for it and also demand to be heard for the same.
In addition, content that has religious, racial or political context will also be thoroughly verified and questioned as Amazon Prime and Netflix, and various other live streaming platforms have faced complaints for obscenity.
“A publisher shall take into consideration India’s multi-racial and multi-religious context and exercise due caution and discretion when featuring the activities, beliefs, practices or views of any racial or religious group.” states the draft rules.
The detailed version of the draft will come into effect after 3 months of its release, the date for which has not been decided yet.