Twitter, Facebook, Instagram yet to comply with new digital ethics code, deadline ends 25 May

On 25 February 2021, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued new guidelines for social media companies, Over the Top (OTT) players and digital media publishers, and a three-tier grievance redressal framework. At the time of announcement, the ministry gave social media platforms a three-month window to comply with the new guidelines. The deadline ends Tuesday, 25 May 2021.

So far, no other platform except for Koo has complied with the new guidelines. "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 a due diligence and grievance redressal mechanism supported by an Indian resident Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Officer and Grievance Officer," Koo said in a statement.

In case of non-compliance by other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagaram and Twitter, the end of the deadline, the government could take criminal action against them.

Representational image

With the new digital ethics code, the government aims to establish a "soft touch progressive institutional mechanism with a level-playing field". Union IT and Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the guidelines for intermediaries and ethics code for digital media are designed to curb misuse of social media platforms as well as streaming services and disclose the first originator of the mischievous information and remove, within 24 hours, content depicting nudity or morphed pictures of women.

(Also read: India invokes IT Act to regulate digital content but new norms may fail legal scrutiny)

As per the guidelines:

1. Social media platforms need to establish a grievance redressal mechanism, and name a grievance officer, who must register a grievance within 24 hours and redress it in 15 days.

2. In case of complaints against the dignity of users, particularly of women (exposure of their private parts, nudity or sexual act, impersonation, etc.), social media platforms will have to remove such material in 24 hours after a complaint is made.

Significant social media intermediaries guidelines

  1. Appoint a chief compliance officer (resident of India) who will be responsible for ensuring the compliance of the acts and rules.
  2. Appoint a nodal contact person (resident of India) for having 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  3. Appoint a resident grievance officer who will perform the grievance redressal mechanism. These intermediaries are required to deliver a monthly compliance report on the number of grievances filed, and if/how they were redressed.

Social media platform guidelines

  1.  Upon being asked either by the court or by the government, social media platforms will be required to disclose the originator of the mischievous tweet/ message.
  2. The social media platforms must have a provision for voluntary verification of users.

OTT platform guidelines

  1. OTT and Digital news media have to disclose details about where and how they publish content
  2. Grievance redressal system for Digital and OTT platforms
  3. Self regulatory body headed by a retired SC or HC judge

Additionally, the Centre says it will create a 'Grievance Portal' and any person with a complaint about the content on OTT platforms or digital media may register the complaint with the Grievance Portal. The complaint will first be forwarded by the Centre to the concerned entity. In case the complainant is dissatisfied with the response of the Grievance Redressal Officer, they can appeal to the self-regulating body formed for the concerned entity. Further appeals can be made to the central government.



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