Indian social media and OTT guidelines 2021

Updated: Mar 15

Indian government have announced new set of rules and strict guidelines for social media intermediaries such as Whatsapp, OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon prime video and news portals.

At a press conference, Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the basic essence of "The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021" is “soft-touch oversight” mechanism to deal with issues such as persistent spread of fake news, abuse of these platforms to share morphed images of women and contents related to revenge porn or to settle corporate rivalries.

Down below are the new rules these platform have to comply with:-

First originator

The government now wants all the social media and messaging to be able to track down the “first originator” whether its about fake news or any objectionable content.

The request to share this information will be mandated either by a court order or executive order by the government of India.

Grievance officer

Social media intermediaries are now have follow a three tier compliance mechanism. Now companies have to appoint a grievance officer who will be responsible for registering complaint and address the issue within 15 days.

In addition to this company also have to appoint a chief compliance officer who will be responsible for complice of acts under the rules of government and a nodal contact person who will coordinate with law enforcement.

Social media intermediaries will also be required to publish a monthly compliance report. This will include how many complaints were received, how they were investigated, and how they were resolved at the end of the day.

ALL the OTT platform such as Netflix, prime video or Disney+ hotstar also have to apply the have same grievance model as social media companies

Classification of content

Platform now have to classify their content based on who it is appropriate for, aside from setting up mechanisms for self regulation.

The classification levels will be – Universal (suitable for all)

– U/A - General Viewing: but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children – U/A - 7+ : suitable for 7 years and above – U/A - 13+ : Suitable for 13 years and over – U/A - 16+ : Suitable for 16 years and over – Adult category – Suitable only for 18 years and above

Digital media

As a part of the new rules, digital media will have to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act and also have to follow the same three level grievance redressal mechanism

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