OTT, social media guidelines released: Key takeaways

These guidelines were put in place after mounting concerns on violation of privacy, misuse of social media and circulation of fake news
Last Updated : 01 April 2021, 10:29 IST

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Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar on Thursday announced the guidelines for social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

Addressing the press conference, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Social media is welcome to do business but must not overrule dignity of civilised existence." He added that several concerns have been raised over the misuse of social media platforms. Likewise, Javadekar also said that digital news portals will be held to the same standards as print media. However, he also added that media freedoms will be upheld as "Freedom of the press is the spirit of democracy."

Here are the key takeaways from the press conference:

1. Prasad said that grievances on social media platforms should be addressed as early as possible. Under the new policy, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would have to remove flagged content as soon as possible, but not later than 36 hours after a government or legal order.

2. If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women - exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc - social media platforms will be required to remove that content within 24 hours and redressal within 15 days after the complaint is filed. "This is designed to respect the dignity of women and to empower ordinary users of social media," Ravi Shankar said.

3. "The government welcomes criticism and right to dissent but it is very important for the users of social media to have a forum to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media," Ravi Shankar said.

4. Social media platforms will now 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. If in an instance where the originator of the message resides or is in a country outside India, the first originator of the message in this country will be held accountable.

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

6. Social media platforms will also be required to appoint a grievance officer, who shall register complaints withiin 24 hours. They will work in coordination with the authorities to resolve issues.

7. The laws will come into effect within three months, Ravi Shankar added.

8. Prakash Javadekar stressed that OTT platforms must self-regulate. "OTT platforms will have to have a self-regulating body, headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judge or very eminent person in this category," he said.

9. He also announced that OTT platforms must follow self-classification for categorising content age-wise.

10. "We have decided to have a three-tier mechanism for OTT platforms. OTT and digital news media will have to disclose their details. We are not mandating registration, we are seeking information," said Javadekar.

11. Even OTT platforms and digital news portals have been asked to set up a grievance redressal system.

Published 25 February 2021, 08:52 IST

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