Digital Media guidelines outlined by Government

According to the new digital media guidelines set by the government, OTT platforms for Digital content must appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact person, and a Resident Grievance Officer as per the new social media regulatory norms.

(Source: ET Government)

As a part of the major policy change introduced by the Union government, brought in a new set of guidelines for digital media and OTT platforms. The guidelines assume significance as the new digital policy for the first time will look to regulate the content on digital media platforms.

Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad welcomed social media platforms to do business in India and praised them for garnering popularity and a good number of users while he announced the guidelines for social media. Prasad also took a chance hail these digital platforms for empowering ordinary Indians.

He further insisted that the actions of social media agencies in India must be regulated too and said, “For this purpose, the government has called for the establishment of a speedy grievance redressal mechanism.”

The new guidelines for digital platforms include-

  • The Union government has proposed a three-level grievance redressal mechanism under the new rules with two levels of self-regulation.
  • While Level I comprises the publisher and level II comprises the self-regulatory body, while the third level is the oversight mechanism under the ministry of information and broadcasting.
  • As per the new guidelines the OTT platforms will need to employ a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and a resident grievance officer under the new social media regulatory mechanism.
  • The self-regulatory body would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or of a high court, or by a person of eminence from the relevant field, and can issue advisories to the publisher.

The new guidelines also call for stricter compliance for the Social media platforms, which will be required to disclose the first originator of mischievous tweets or messages as the case may be upon being asked either by a court order or a government authority.

However, the government has clarified that these norms should be only seen in relation to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, or rape, sexually explicit content and the likes.

As part of the new guidelines, the Centre has also issued clear directives about social media intermediaries. As per the new guidelines, all social media platforms will have two categories of intermediaries. The Centre will notify users number for a significant social media intermediary very soon.

These intermediaries will have to have a grievance redressal mechanism. They will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and ensure disposal in 15 days.

Apart from social media platforms Centre has also directed the OTT platforms to self-classify its content into five categories based on age, namely: U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult). Also these platforms will be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as 'A'.