The Centre has written to the OTT and digital media platforms to furnish all details and their compliance status as per the new IT rules within 15 days. In a notice dated May 26, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting attached three separate forms for OTT platforms print or TV outlets with digital channels and digital-only news websites and asked them to furnish information under Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
In its notice to the platforms, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting said that a total of around 60 publishers and their associations have informed the ministry that they have already initiated the process of formation of self-regulatory bodies under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021.
Apart from the details on the websites, mobile apps and social media accounts, the ministry has also sought information on the grievance redressal mechanism. According to the government’s new rules, the three-level grievance redressal mechanism will include self-regulation by publishers within 15 days, self-regulation by publishers’ self-regulating bodies which will address grievances not resolved in a fortnight, and an oversight mechanism by the I&B ministry which will establish an inter-departmental committee for hearing grievances.
“The publishers may furnish the information to the ministry in the applicable format within 15 days of the issuance of this notice,” said the notice.
Earlier in the week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) informed that companies have to submit the names of the apps or websites that fall under the significant social media intermediary definition i.e. platforms with over 5 Mn users in India. Social media companies and intermediaries have to submit names and contact details of the chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, grievance redressal officer as well as the physical contact address related to the intermediary. Companies also have to disclose the compliance status, which would presumably include details of whether they have implemented adequate measures for traceability of content and other aspects, stipulated in the rules.
The new rules were notified in February this year, and besides social media intermediaries, it also covers digital media and online curated content i.e. OTT platforms. According to the rules, Social media platforms would be required to take down objectionable content/posts within 36 hours of receiving a complaint from competent authorities. Besides this, OTT platforms like Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Zee5 will also face stringent scrutiny from the government as per the new guidelines. All such intermediaries and digital media platforms are also required to appoint chief compliance officers, resident grievance officers and other employees specifically to deal with the requirements under the law.
Platforms that do not comply with the rules will lose their rights to use provisions under Section 79 of the Indian IT Act, 2011 which grant safe harbour protection to such platforms. It also opens them up to greater scrutiny under the provisions of the law, including monetary penalties and/or imprisonment.