Digital media platforms yet to comply with new rules as 3-month deadline ends today

Under the new rules, significant social media platforms will have to follow additional compliances like the appointments of chief compliance officer, nodal contact person & resident grievance officer

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: May 25, 2021 2:35 PM  | 5 min read

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 will come into effect from Wednesday, 26th May as the three-month deadline to comply with the rules comes to an end today. The intermediary guidelines bring social media, OTT, and digital news platforms under the regulatory framework.

The guidelines related to social media platforms will be administered by the Ministry of Electronics and IT while the Digital Media Ethics Code Relating to digital media and OTT platforms will be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp are yet to comply with the new rules. Most of the OTT and digital news platforms are also yet to fully comply with the ethics code.

Facebook today said that it is working to implement operational processes and aims to comply with the provisions of the IT rules. In a statement on Tuesday, a Facebook spokesperson said: "We aim to comply with the provisions of the IT rules and continue to discuss a few of the issues which need more engagement with the government. Pursuant to the IT rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies."

Last week, Koo had announced that it has met the compliance requirements of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (Rules) ahead of the prescribed date of May 25, 2021. Koo now has close to 6 million downloads and makes it a major social media intermediary.

Koo’s Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Community Guidelines reflect the requirements of the Rules as applicable to significant social media intermediaries. In addition, Koo has implemented due diligence and grievance redressal mechanism supported by an Indian resident Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Officer, and Grievance Officer.

Under the new rules, significant social media platforms will have to follow additional compliances including the appointments of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer. Social media platforms also need to have a provision for the voluntary verification mechanism of the users. Further, social media platforms on being asked either by court or govt authority will be required to disclose 1st originator of mischievous tweet or message.

As far as OTT platforms are concerns, a majority of them are yet to comply with the guidelines barring a few. Following a meeting with I&B minister Prakash Javadekar, the platforms including ALTBalaji, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Jio TV, ZEE5, Voot, Shemaroo, and MX Player had welcomed the rules and thanked the minister for addressing most of their concerns.

After the notification of the intermedia rules, Javadekar had also interacted with representatives of the Digital News Publishers Association (DNPA) in the backdrop of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. DNPA is the digital news body formed by traditional media houses.

The DNPA representatives while welcoming the new rules stated that TV and newsprint media have been following the laid down norms of the Cable Television Network Act and the Press Council Act for a very long time.  Further for publishing the digital versions, the publishers had said that they do follow the existing norms of the traditional platforms. They had also stated that they should be treated differently than those news publishers who are only on the digital platform.

DIGIPUB News India Foundation, an association of independent publishers of digital news, had urged the ministry to repeal the rules or keep them on hold till their concerns are taken care of. In a letter to MIB, DIGIPUB had welcomed the initiative and statements by the MIB stressing the need for self-regulation of all media including digital news media. However, it added that there are some concerns about some specifics of the Rules (Rules) that were notified on 25th February 2021.

The DIGIPUB had also formed an independent, high-level ombudsman process/content review committee. The independent committee represents an additional, voluntary layer of transparency on the part of our member publications.

Some of its members like The Quint and The Wire have also challenged the guidelines in the Delhi High Court. The digital news platforms have contended that the new rules are unconstitutional and will have a chilling effect on media freedom.

As per the guidelines, the digital news platforms will have to follow the journalistic conduct of the PCI and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Network Act. The rules also mandate a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers, OTT Platforms, and digital media.

The publisher will have to appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it. The officer shall take a decision on every grievance it receives within 15 days.

There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person and have not more than six members. Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB).

This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days. The MIB will formulate an oversight mechanism. It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.

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