Central govt releases new guidelines for content on social media, OTT platforms

The govt said that while social media companies are welcome to do business in India, they must comply with rules and regulations from time to time
Central govt releases new guidelines for content on social media, OTT platforms

The central government has released new guidelines for movies and TV shows releasing on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Disney Hotstar, Amazon Prime and many more. The Centre has also bought rules for digital content on social media to avoid misuse of the platforms.

Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that social media platforms should not be misused. “Social media is most welcome to do business in the country. They have done good in empowering ordinary Indians and, their platforms are often used to cast aspersion on the most pressing issues,” he said. “I would like to say that social media platforms should not be misused. The platforms will have to comply with the government issued rules and regulations in this regard.”

Prasad noted that there are concerns about the rampant misuse of social media platforms and the spreading of fake news. The government has also said that morphed and explicit photos of women must be removed from the platforms. “Content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women have to be removed in 24 hours. Social media intermediaries have to appoint grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours,” Prasad said at the press briefing.

The IT Minister also said that upon being asked either by a court order or a government authority, the social media platforms are required to disclose the originator of mischievous tweet or message. “This should be only concerning sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, relations with foreign states, or rape, sexually explicit content, etc.,” Prasad said.

The Minister said that as per the new rules, social media intermediaries will have to appoint a grievance redressal mechanism officer. This officer shall register complaints in 24 hours and disposal in 15 days. Prasad added that the government has given social media platforms three months to improve their mechanism.

From social media, Prasad moved to the OTT platforms. Following the controversies surrounding the contents releasing on OTT platforms, the government has decided to strictly monitor them. Prasad said the government is bringing in a soft touch progressive institutional mechanism. The OTT platforms will have a self-regulating body. “The regulating body will be headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a High Court judge,” the minister said.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was also attending the press briefing, said that the content will be classified based on various categories. “The OTT platforms would self-classify the content into five categories – U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult),” he said, adding that platforms are required to implement parental locks for contents classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for contents classified as A.

Javadekar also added that news publishers on social media must follow certain norms. “Publishers of news on digital media are required to follow Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print and TV) and online media,” he said.

A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has also been set up. Level I being the publisher, Level II being the Self-Regulatory Body and Level III being the oversight mechanism under the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting,

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