Sun. Jun 13th, 2021

They also have to provide a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism to deal with complaints

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has asked the digital media platforms to submit compliance reports as per the new intermediary rules under the IT Act within 15 days.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital media Ethics Codes) Rules, 2021 were notified by the government on February 25. These rules for the first time bring the digital media platforms under government monitoring. It also gives emergency power to the Ministry to block content. The platforms also have to provide a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism to deal with complaints about their content.

As per the latest notice from the Ministry, so far, 60 publishers have written to it saying they have initiated the process of formation of the self regulatory bodies under the rules. Some of the publishers have also written regarding registration with the Ministry under the rules.

The Ministry clarified that there is no requirement for prior registration of digital media publishers with it and only certain information as per the prescribed format has to be furnished. This includes basic information such as URL, contact of the grievance redressal officer and so on.

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) urged the government to “exempt and exclude” the traditional television news media and its extended presence on the digital news platforms from the ambit of the IT Rules 2021, arguing that it is already “sufficiently regulated” by various statutes, laws, guidelines, codes and regulations.

It has also criticised the new rules saying the IT Act, 2000 and the IT Rules 2021, and “more specifically” provisions such as the blocking of content in cases of emergency, will ‘severely’ impact the freedom of speech and expression of the media.

“Since the news channels/broadcasters and their extended digital arms strictly adhere to the statutes and regulations applicable and are governed at multiple levels of redressal mechanism, if the IT Rules, 2021 are made applicable, it will not only lead to harassment of the news channels/broadcasters but will also suppress and violate their fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and will also restrict news reporting in a fair manner,” it said.

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