Articles

Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

by Abha Kashyap Managing Patner

Ever since the sudden and drastic increase in the available media platforms, the government has sought to regulate the new platforms and their content. Recently, the Central Government took one step in this direction by notifying new guidelines in relation to Digital Media, Social Media and OTT Platforms under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021. The new Rules replace the earlier rules i.e. Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011.

The  Rules have been brought majorly to regulate the social media platforms, digital media platforms including the OTT Platforms and its content. A lot of issues were being discussed pertaining to the transparency and accountability of the digital platforms and content along with the undefined rights of the users. The newly introduced Rules aim to resolve such issues and queries of the stakeholders and users in a descriptive and clear manner.

Part II of the new Rules enunciate guidelines pertaining to due diligence by intermediaries. The Rules places additional responsibility on Social Media Intermediary and Significant Social Media Intermediary regarding the privacy, compliance, rules of usage on the digital platforms and social media platforms (SMIs). The publishers and originators of particular information will be under the purview of SMIs. They define a significant SMI as a platform having a certain number of users above a government prescribed threshold limit. The intermediaries would also be responsible for ensuring that their users are adhering to the rules & regulations and privacy policy.  In order to ensure compliance, the  Rules illustrates that if the intermediaries fail to comply with the Rules they will not eligible for protection from liability for any third party information as enshrined in the Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.[1]

Part III of the Rules deal with the Code of Ethics and Procedures pertaining to Digital and Social Media platforms and content. The content uploaded and published by digital media platforms and on social media platforms will be regulated and administered by Code of Ethics given as an appendix in the Rules.[2] The publisher of news and the online content will have to undertake certain responsibilities and adhere to the Code. A three - tier structure has been introduced in order to address the issues and grievances regards to the publishers under this part as:

  •  Under Level I - Self-regulation will be done by the applicable entity;
  • Under Level II — Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the applicable entities;
  • Under Level III - Oversight mechanism by the Central Government.[3]


The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate and establish an online grievance portal for addressing and administering the issues and concerns under the mentioned Part of the Rules.[4]

The Rules have categorically mentioned the requirements for a publisher to publish and upload content related to news and current affairs in order to regulate the platforms and information. The significant publisher of news and related information shall inform and notify the Broadcast Seva under the Ministry about such operations, publishing and processing of information pertaining to news and current affairs.[5]

Moreover, the Rules have mentioned that there will be classification of the content which is uploaded and published on OTT Platforms on the basis of nature and type of content i.e. violence, nudity, drug abuse, language etc., for different age categories of users.

These Rules will regulate the content, information, social and digital media platforms which will benefit the users as the transparency and accountability factor will significantly increase. Along with this, the compliance with Code of Ethics, establishment of self-regulating bodies for entities and organisations is going to play a major role in Digital and Social Media industry.


[1] Rule 7 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

[2] Rule 9 (1) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

[3] Rule 9 (3) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

[4] Rule 13 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

[5] Rule 18 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

Originally posted on www.kpalegal.com on 4th March 2021


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About Abha Kashyap Advanced   Managing Patner

30 connections, 1 recommendations, 105 honor points.
Joined APSense since, March 27th, 2020, From Gurugram, India.

Created on Mar 4th 2021 02:19. Viewed 21 times.

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