Government releases guidelines to control online and digital media

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The Indian Government has issued digital media ethics code and guidelines for online streaming platforms, over the top (OTT) and social media platforms according to which the content involving morphed pictures of women and nudity have to be removed by these media in 24 hours. For this purpose a grievance redressal mechanism will also be put in place. The mechanism will ensure receiving and resolving complaints made by the users or the victims.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while releasing the guidelines and digital media ethics code rules 2021 informed that a chief compliance officer will have to be appointed by the social media intermediaries to ensure compliance with the rules. He said social media platforms need to follow the Indian constitution and laws and they will also have to publish a compliance report with details of all the complaints received and the action taken on them.

Digital media ethics code to regulate digital content was also unveiled on the occasion. Now the OTT platforms will have to self-classify the content in age-based categories and it will be compulsory to display the classification rating for each content, content décor and programme with informing the users about the content’s nature.

It will be mandatory for the publishers of the digital media and news to observe norms of Press Council of India, Journalistic conduct and the code under cable TV networks regulation. Speaking on the occasion, Prakash Javadekar, Information and Broadcasting Minister said a three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules apart from different levels of self-regulation.

At the first level, there will be an appointment of a grievance redressal officer who will be given responsibility for redresal of the grievances and the officer will have to take a decision within 15 days after receiving the grievances. At the second level, one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers may be established. These bodies will be headed by a Supreme Court/high court retired judge, or any eminent person with maximum permissible six members.

The regulatory body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the code of ethics and it will also address those grievances which the publisher fails to resolve within 15 days. At the third level, an oversight mechanism formulated by the ministry of information and broadcasting will also publish a charter and code of practices for these self-regulating bodies. Moreover, it will also establish an inter-departmental committee that will hear grievances.

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