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10 Key Takeaways from the New OTT, Social Media Codes declared by Govt. of India

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The Government of India on Thursday announced new rules to regulate digital content and establish a Code of Ethics and three-tier grievance redressal framework for news websites and OTT platforms. Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s IT, Law, and Justice Minister said in a press conference that concerns have been raised about rampant abuse of social media platforms and the spread of fake news. According to him, the new rules will empower social media users. 

The Information Technology Rules 2021 prescribe how digital news organizations, social media platforms, and OTT streaming services will be regulated by the government. The rules include a strict oversight mechanism involving several ministries and a code of ethics that bans content affecting the “sovereignty and integrity” of India and that threatening national security. These rules pose new challenges for giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Netflix that count Asia’s third-largest economy as their key overseas market.

Here are the 10 takeaways from the Government of India’s address.

  • Grievances on social media platforms should be addressed as soon as possible. Under the new policy, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook will have to remove flagged content as soon as possible, but no later than 36 hours after a government or legal order.

  • Social media platforms will be required to appoint a grievance officer, who shall register complaints within 24 hours. They will work in coordination with the authority to solve the issues.

  • Content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women have to be removed within 24 hours.

  • Social media platforms will have to disclose the first originator of the message or tweet if the authority of the court order dictates. This refers to where the message first originated and holding the originator accountable for its dissemination.

  • The OTT platforms must follow self-classification for categorizing content age-wise.

  • Through a three-tier mechanism, OTT platforms and digital new media will have to disclose their details.

  • OTT platforms must have a self-regulating body, headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in the category.

  • Social media platforms must have a chief compliance officer residing in India—who will be responsible for ensuring compliance of Acts. They are also required to have a nodal contact person residing in India for coordination with law enforcement agencies.

  • All these laws will come into effect within three months.

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