On February 25,2021 the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITy) had introduced comprehensive guidelines for new sites, social media and OTT platforms and gave them a time span of 3 months to comply with it. The new guidelines and policies focus at regulating digital content that features a code of ethics along with a three-tier grievance redressal framework. It was informed that new rules will come into effect from May 26, 2021.
As per the rules, the intermediaries have to appoint the Resident Grievance Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and a person for Nodal Contact. Along with this they must remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours.
Social media companies failing to agree with the rules might lose their protections as intermediaries and face legal consequences as per Indian law.
Except one Indian company “koo” which has over 50 lakh user base, all other top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter,Whatsapp and Instagram are yet to adhere to the rules. Instead, these companies had seeked to extend the compliance deadline upto six months and several firms had requested for more time, because though their business is in India the headquarters in USA deals with the instructions for grievance redressal.
The guidelines is not only concerned with complaint resolution and removal of objectionable content, it also has provisions to establish an oversight mechanism by the government, including a committee of representatives from the ministries of External Affair, Defence, IT, Law, Home, I&B and Women & Child Development. They will hold the powers to call hearings in case of violation of the Code of Ethics.
According to the Terms, after the compliance social media companies must provide a compliance report pertaining the details of complaints received and action taken along with details of contents removed. It is mandatory for them to own a physical contact address in India and it should be mentioned on their website and mobile app. After receiving a complaint they will have to remove posts related to nudity and abusive contents within 24 hours. But when they remove content, the Users should be informed about it prior.
Now, since the companies have sought for extension of time period to comply with the rules, the government has to take an appropriate decision as it would affect the users of these platforms.