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IT Rules 2021 With Reference To Due Diligence By Intermediaries

An Overview of Rules made for social media intermediaries under Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The Government of India had framed the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, in February this year.
These rules have been framed by government in exercise of powers under section 87 of IT Act 2000.These rules require the social media intermediaries/ platforms to adhere to a vastly tighter set of rules within three months.

Need For The Rules:
The digital India programme has become a mass movement .There is extensive use of social media platform by common people in a very significant way . However some disturbing development are observed on social media platform like fake news, morphed image of woman and content related to revenge porn that threaten the dignity oif women. Misuse by criminal, anti national elements, inducement for recruitment of terrorist, spread of communal disharmony, financial fraud etc.

There is no robust complaint mechanism where ordinary users of social media and OTT platforms can register there complaint and get redressed in defined time line . Absence of transparency and robust grievance redressal mechanism have left the users on whims & fancies of social media platform .

Two Categories Of Social Media Intermediaries
  • Social media intermediaries
  • Significant social media intermediaries (more than 50 lakhs users)

Due Diligence By Intermediaries And Grievance Redressal Mechanism( Section 3 And 4)
All the social media intermediaries shall observe the following due diligence by discharing duties:
  1. Shall published on its website rules and regulations privacy policy and user agreement and shall periodically inform its user about the same.
  2. Shall inform the user not to host display upload transmit or share any information which is harmful to child, infringe IPR, is defamatory, obscene violate any law threatens the security of India, contains software virus etc.
  3. Shall insure online safety and dignity of users especially women users.
  4. Intermediary shall remove or disable access witin 24 hrs of receiving the complain.
  5. Shall upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by appropriate govt. platforms should not host or publish any information and remove unlawful information.
  6. Shall retain info. For aperiod of 180 days after any cancelation or withdrawal of registration on a computer resource by a user.
  7. Shall provide info. to investigative govt. agencies for verification of identity or for prevention of cyber security incident.
  8. Shall follow reasonable security practices and procedures as prescribed in the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Information) Rules, 2011

Additional due diligence to be observed by significant social media intermediary:
  • Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for insuring compliance with the act and rules.
  • Appoint a NODAL CONTACT PERSON for 24X7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  • Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the function mentioned in grievance redressal mechanism. All These Officers Should Be Resident Of India.
  • Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents remove proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
  • While providing services primarily in the nature of messaging it shall enable identification of the first originator of the information however intermediary shall not be required to disclose the content of message or other information of the originator.
  • Shall enable users who to voluntarily verify their accounts and provide such user demonstrable and visible mark of verification, which shall be visible to all users of the service.

Non Observance Of Rules
Where an intermediary fails to observe these rules, the provisions of sub-section (1) of section 79 of the Act shall not be applicable to such intermediary and the intermediary shall be liable for punishment under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the Act and the IPC.

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