The Centre on Thursday announced new rules to curb misuse of social media platforms, amidst growing concerns around lack of transparency, accountability and rights of users related to these platforms. It mandated firms to appoint grievance officer, disclose the first originator of the mischievous information and remove, within 24 hours, content depicting nudity or morphed pictures of women.
The social media platforms upon being asked either by the court or by the government authority will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous tweet or a message said Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Concerns have been raised about rampant abuse of social media platforms and spread of fake news and the government is bringing in a "soft touch" regulation, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while announcing the new guidelines.
As per the new rules, social media intermediaries have to appoint a grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours. The grievance redressal official must be resident in India, and monthly compliance reports will have to be filed by social media platforms.
"The rules prescribe due diligence that must be followed by intermediaries, including social media intermediaries. In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them. It seeks to empower the users by mandating the intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance redressal mechanism for receiving resolving complaints from the users or victims," as per an official statement.
Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Especially Women Users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access withing 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in a sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc. Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.
Two Categories of Social Media Intermediaries: To encourage innovations and enable the growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement, the Rules make a distinction between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. This distinction is based on the number of users on the social media platform. The government is empowered to notify the threshold of the user base that will distinguish between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. The Rules require significant social media intermediaries to follow certain additional due diligence.
Additional Due Diligence to Be Followed by Significant Social Media Intermediary: Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Such a person should be a resident of India. Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person shall be a resident in India.
Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under the Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a person shall be a resident in India. Publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary.
Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable identification of the first originator of the information that is required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order or of incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation with rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years. The intermediary shall not be required to disclose the contents of any message or any other information to the first originator. Significant social media intermediary shall have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app or both.