On 25th February, 2021, government of India had framed Information technology
act (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code), 2021. This
rule have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 of IT act,2000. It
supressed Information Technology act,2011. It came into effect on 26th May,
2021. Through this case article, I will discuss what is Information Technology
Act, 2021, what are the reasons for this act to be framed, IT Act, 2000,
government of India's statement on this and what are the controversies related
to IT act, 2021.
What Is Information Technology Act, 2021
Information technology act (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media
Ethics Code), 2021 is a subordinate legislation which was framed by government
of India, coordinating with Ministry of Electronics and Broadcasting and
Ministry of Information and Technology. It was framed by stemming section 87 of
IT act,2000, Intermediaries Rules, 2018 and the OTT Regulation and Code of
Ethics for Digital Media.
According to this new rule:
- It is mandatory to set up a grievance redressal office for OTT (over the
top) and digital portal in the country
- A chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person are to be
appointed by social media firms. He/she will be in touch with law
enforcement agencies 24/7.
- A grievance officer has to be appointed by social media firms. He/she
have to register the grievance within 24 hours and has to dispose it off
within 15 days.
- Social media platform have to remove the content within 24 hours If
there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women �
about their exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or
- Social media platforms have to submit a monthly report the number of
complaints received and the status of redressal.
- There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers,
self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, which will be headed by a retired
judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and
Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance
- Social media companies which have more than 50 lakh registered users
will be considered 'significant social media intermediaries'.
- If they do not comply with the rules then they could face a ban. Also,
they run the risk of losing their status as "intermediaries" and may become
liable for criminal action if they do not comply with the revised
Reasons For It Act, 2021 To Be Frame
India is the world's largest open internet society and the government of India
welcomes social media companies to operate in India, do business and also earn
profits. However, they will have to be accountable to the constitution of India.
But with this, serious concerns have also been raised in parliament, especially
in 2018 monsoon session as social media platforms are also used to spread fake
news, to abuse someone on social media, to circulate defamatory and obscene
content, morphed images of women, revenge porn, etc.
This is all because of lack of robust complaint mechanism through which,
ordinary social media users can register their complaint and get it redressed
within defined timeline.
Also, lack of transparency and absence of robust grievance redressal mechanism
left the users totally dependent on the whims and fancies of social media
platforms. It has been seen that a user who has spent his time, energy and money
in developing a social media profile is left with no remedies in case that
profile is restricted or removed by the platform without giving any opportunity.
Information Technology Act, 2000
Information technology act,2000 was notified by Indian parliament on 17
October, 2000. In 1996, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
adopted a model law on e-commerce and digital intricacies. It made compulsory
for every country to have its own laws on e-commerce and cybercrimes. After
this, government of India passed the IT Act was passed in 2000, making India the
12th country in the world to pass legislation for cyber crimes.
The main purpose of this act was:
Also, this act:
- To protect all the transactions done through electronic means.
- To recognize the digital signatures that are used for any sort of legal
- To regulate the activities of intermediaries and protect citizens from
- Defines cyber crimes
- Provides legal framework for electronic governance by giving recognition
to electronic records and digital signatures.
- Appoints controller as certifying authority
- Mandates obtaining license for electronic certificate
Government Statement On Information Technology Act, 2021
According to the notification released by government of India, social media
platforms have empowered ordinary users but they need accountability against its
misuse and abuse. The new rules empowers ordinary users of social media,
embodying a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievance.
Rules about digital media and OTT focuses on in house and self-regulation
mechanism whereby a robust grievance redressal mechanism have been provided
while upholding journalistic and creative freedom .The proposed framework is a
progressive, liberal and contemporaneous one.
It seeks to address peoples of varied concerns while removing any
misapprehension about curbing creativity and freedom of speech and expression.
Also, the guidelines have been framed keeping in mind the difference between
viewership in a theatre and television as compared to watching it on internet.
Controversies Related To Information Technology Act, 2021
- It deprives intermediaries of a fair recourse in the event that it
disagrees with the Government's order due to a strict timeline.
- It had also been alleged that Information Technology Act, 2021 is
violative of freedom of speech and expression.
- This rule also makes a mandatory requirement of traceability. This will
break this immunity of the intermediaries that they were having earlier of
end to end encryption, that they cannot read the message of the users. This
is violative as it is invasion of privacy.
- The definition of intermediaries may be too broad in this act.
- It also violated the code of ethics. According to the rules, Secretary
of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may pass an order for
blocking the content of an online publisher in case of emergency maybe on
the grounds of national security and public order and at that time these
intermediaries are not given a chance of hearing.
Information Technology Act, 2021 is the need of the hour as too much of content
is posted on social media platforms and some of them vulgar and misappropriate
in nature and also affects the mind of the youth in a negative sense. Also,
there is an abuse of social media platforms by spreading fake news, sending
inappropriate content like sending threats, child pornography, etc.
But this rule have many issues mentioned above. Most importantly, it violates
our right to freedom of speech and expression and right to privacy. This act is
necessary but government needs to make sure that this act does not exceeds the
rights of a citizen of India.
- Information Technology Act, 2021
- Intermediaries Rule, 2018
- Information Technology Act, 2000