Govt issues guidelines and digital media ethics code for OTT, online streaming and social media platforms

A grievance redressal mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from the users or victims will be put in place

Government today issued guidelines and digital media ethics code for Over The Top (OTT), online streaming and social media platforms. As per the guidelines, social media platforms have to remove content involving nudity and morphed pictures of women within 24 hrs to ensure online safety and dignity of users, specially women users. A grievance redressal mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from the users or victims will be put in place.

Releasing the Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021 in New Delhi, Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Social Media Intermediaries will have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who will be responsible for ensuring compliance of rules.

The Minister said the Social media platforms are welcome to do business in India but they need to follow the Constitution and laws of India.

The government also unveiled Digital Media Ethics Code Relating to Digital Media and OTT Platforms to regulate digital content. The OTT platforms will self-classify the content into five age based categories and prominently display the classification rating specific to each content together with a content deor informing the user about the nature of the content.

The Publishers of news on digital media will be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, a three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation.

AIR Correspondent reports that the rules are intended to empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances and command accountability in case of infringement of their rights. The rules to regulate the content of digital media and OTT platforms have been brought amid the growing outreach of platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime and widespread concerns about issues relating to digital contents.

The Social Media platforms will appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with the complaints and the Officer will acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and resolve it within fifteen days. They will also publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed. On being asked by the court or government, they will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischief information.

While talking about Self-Classification of Content, the rules to regulate the content of OTT and Digital media, say that platforms will be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13 or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as A.

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