India’s new IT rules 2021, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) new guidelines giving social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others to comply.
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Social media firms operating in India will have to implement the IT Rules 2021 (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code). These new guidelines were released on 25th February 2021 giving social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other similar platforms three months to comply. These new IT rules kick starts today, May 26.
Facebook and Google have agreed to comply with this new IT Rules 2021, However, WhatsApp — a Facebook subsidiary — has not. Instead, suing the Indian government.
The new IT Rules 2021 for digital media platforms requires appointing a resident nodal grievance officer as part of a grievance redressal mechanism for actively monitoring the content posted on the platform, generating monthly compliance reports for Indian users, and also an oversight mechanism created by the Meity.
Which social media platforms come within the IT Rules 2021?
All social media platforms with more than 5 million users.
- Facebook - 290 million users in India to date. Making India the leading country in terms of Facebook audience size. Where in the US - 190 million, Indonesia - 140 million, Brazil – 130 and Mexico – 89 million.
- Instagram - 100 million users in India, US - 130 million and Brazil - 91 million.
- WhatsApp - 390 million users in India, Brazil – 108 million, US – 75 million, and Indonesia – 68 million.
- Twitter - 17.5 million users in India, UK - 16.45 million, and Brazil - 16.2 million.
Requirements for the Grievance Redressal System
The new IT Rules 2021 says that social media platforms now require a grievance redressal mechanism which will be monitored by a Chief Compliance Officer, who will be the Nodal Contact Person. These complaints will be acknowledged within 24 hours of receipt and these complaints have to be actioned within 15 days from the date of receipt.
Note: All social media platforms are required to publish the flow details of this mechanism on their apps and websites and explain to users how this mechanism works in place to make a complaint against content on their platform. To make sure they comply with the new regulation.
Role of Chief Compliance Officer
The new IT Rules 2021 clearly state that for this clause “Chief Compliance Officer” means key managerial personnel or such other senior employee who is a resident in India. Will be a nodal contact person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies, and a resident grievance officer.
What difference does it make on the usage of Facebook or Twitter or any social media?
There is absolutely no change in the way of interaction with any social media platform. As long as someone isn't breaking the rules of the nation or the community guidelines, with content that is offensive or dangerous. The only difference would be in case anyone raises an issue with the grievance redressal systems of these platforms for content posted on by any other user. The platform will need to be responsive and the resolution will now have to be quick.
What legal immunity do these social media platforms have?
Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 says, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force but subject to the provisions of sub-sections (2) and (3), an intermediary shall not be liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him.”
The sub-sections 2 and 3 states that the legal immunity provisions apply only if “The function of the intermediary is limited to providing access to a communication system over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored or hosted” and the intermediary does not initiate the transmission, select the receiver of the transmission or select and modify the information contained in any transmission.
Any exceptions to new IT Rules, 2021
The exception to this new rule describes as “any content which is prima facie like any material which exposes the private area of such individual, shows such individual in full or partial nudity or shows or depicts such individual in any sexual act or conduct, or is like impersonation in an electronic form, including artificially morphed images of such individual,” shall need to be removed from the social media platform within 24 hours from the receipt of the complaint via this redressal mechanism.
Note: The social media platforms will require immediate action for any government notices and court orders. This new rule requires quicker responses to complaints that are raised against content, something that hasn’t always happened till now.
If social media platforms don’t comply with the new IT Rules 2021?
The new IT Rules 2021 comes to force. This is mentioned in the new IT Rules 2021. “When an intermediary fails to observe these rules, the provisions of Section 79(1) of the IT Act, 2000 will not be applicable for the intermediary. The intermediary shall be liable for punishment under any law for the time being in force including the Provisions of the Act and the Indian Penal Code”.