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Centre announces new guidelines to regulate social media, OTTs, digital news

Prakash Javadekar

Prakash Javadekar

While addressing a media briefing on Thursday, Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad unveiled Centre’s new guidelines for OTT platforms, digital news organisations and social media platforms.

 

Government aims to provide a level playing field to all media; all media platforms must have the same justice system, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said.

 

We have not framed any new law. We have framed these rules under the existing IT Act. We are trusting the platforms to follow these regulations. The focus of this guideline is on self-regulation, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said during the briefing.

 

The guidelines were framed amidst growing concerns around lack of transparency, accountability and rights of users related to digital media and after elaborate consultation with the public and stakeholders.

 

While finalizing these Rules, both the Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) undertook elaborate consultations among themselves in order to have a harmonious, soft-touch oversight mechanism in relation to social media platform as well as digital media and OTT platforms etc.

 

Before the rules were finalized, MEITY had prepared draft rules and had invited public comments on December 24, 2018. The Ministry received 171 comments from individuals, civil society, industry association and organizations, 80 counter comments to the proposal were also received. These comments were analysed in detail and an inter-ministerial meeting was held for the same.

 

MIB held consultations in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai over the last one-and-half-years wherein OTT players have been urged to develop self-regulatory? mechanism. The government also studied the models in other countries including Singapore, Australia, European Union (EU) and United Kingdom, and gathered that most of them either had an institutional mechanism to regulate digital content or were in process of setting-up one.

 

The Rules establish a soft-touch self-regulatory architecture and a Code of Ethics and three tier grievance redressal mechanism for news publishers and OTT Platforms and digital media.

 

Under the rules, companies will have to remove objectionable content within 36 hours after a government or legal order and will have to assist in investigations. The rules also include a code of ethics that bans content affecting “the sovereignty and integrity of India” and that which threatens national security.

 

The Rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette, except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect three months after publication of these Rules.

 

Following are the guidelines related to social media, which would be administered by MEITY:

 

Due Diligence To Be Followed By Intermediaries: 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.

 

Grievance Redressal Mechanism: The Rules seek 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. Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.

 

Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users, Specially Women Users: Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 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 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 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. Government is empowered to notify the threshold of user base that will distinguish between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries. The Rules require the significant social media intermediaries to follow certain additional due diligence.

 

Additional Due Diligence to Be Followed by Significant Social Media Intermediary:

 

1. Appoint a Chief Compliance Officer who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules. Such a person should be a resident in India.

 

2. Appoint a Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies. Such a person shall be a resident in India.

 

3. Appoint a Resident Grievance Officer who shall perform the functions mentioned under Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a person shall be a resident in India.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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. Intermediary shall not be required to disclose the contents of any message or any other information to the first originator.

 

6. Significant social media intermediary shall have a physical contact address in India published on its website or mobile app or both.

 

7. Voluntary User Verification Mechanism: Users who wish to verify their accounts voluntarily shall be provided an appropriate mechanism to verify their accounts and provided with demonstrable and visible mark of verification.

 

8. Giving Users An Opportunity to Be Heard: In cases where significant social media intermediaries removes or disables access to any information on their own accord, then a prior intimation for the same shall be communicated to the user who has shared that information with a notice explaining the grounds and reasons for such action. Users must be provided an adequate and reasonable opportunity to dispute the action taken by the intermediary.

 

Removal of Unlawful Information: An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt. or its agencies through authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc.

 

The Rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette, except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect 3 months after publication of these Rules.

 

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Governance

Maharashtra Cyber Department to launch “Digital Literacy Campaign” in association with Meta

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai


 

Maharashtra Cyber Department and Meta Platforms comprising Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram have collaborated to launch the ‘Digital Literacy and Awareness Program’ on 28th March 2022. The launch event will be held from 12 PM to 1:30 PM at Yashwantrao Chavhan Auditorium situated at Nariman Point in Mumbai.

The program is about digital safety best practices for children, adolescents, parents, guardians, and teachers in Maharashtra. The program will include digital literacy awareness sessions, training resources, knowledge repository including child and adult safety self-help material, safety videos, resources, and help guide, with the aim:
To spread awareness about Cyber Bullying, Sextortion, Darknet Services, Social Engineering, Trolling, Identity Theft.
To equip adolescents with tools and knowledge to tackle online threats.
To promote safe online behavior.

In a world where every day is a technological miracle, cybercrime has emerged as an organized, well-funded enterprise due to which the safety of children on the internet has become a global issue discussed at various strategic forums like the United Nations. India as a country needs to do more about the issue and showcase greater cooperation to international bodies working on this initiative.

In this background, it is exceptionally critical for school students to be aware of the threats on the internet like Cyberbullying, Cyber sextortion, trolling online financial frauds, child pornography, darknet crimes, hacking, identity theft, breach of privacy, etc. to make them Cyber responsible with good Cyber hygiene behavior.

Towards this endeavor, Maharashtra Cyber has partnered with Meta Platforms and the India Future Foundation, a training and advocacy organization, to deliver a Digital Literacy and Awareness Program to school/college students for the state of Maharashtra. It will also ensure that is students are saved from traumas and devastating effects of cybercrime such as bullying, sextortion etc.

Maharashtra Cyber is the state nodal agency for Cyber Crime and Cyber Security for Maharashtra constantly engaged in spreading awareness campaigns against cyber-crime. The agency is involved in building cybercrime investigation labs cyber police stations and creating all the necessary awareness about cybercrime amongst the police fraternity and the citizens in Maharashtra.

Meta builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in 2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.

Actress Ameesha Patel, who was herself victim of cybercrime and was helped by Maharashtra cyber, would also grace the occasion as a special guest of honour and recount her experience. Similarly, actress Aishwarya Raj Bhakuni, who has earned fame in Hindi television and Telugu film industry, would also be present as special guest of honour to recount her cyber experiences. Yashasvi Yadav, Special Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra Cyber, will be prominently present during the occasion.

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Governance

Putin warns other nations of ‘interference’ after declaring war on Ukraine; international oil prices hit $100-mark

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Radhika Dhawad | New Delhi

Vladmir Putin

Vladmir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin who announced a military operation in Ukraine and called on the latter’s military to ‘lay down its arms’ on Thursday, warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to ‘consequences they have never seen.’ 

Large explosions were witnessed in Ukraine’s Kyiv and Kharkiv regions. “I have made the decision of a military operation,” said Putin in a surprise television announcement shortly before 6:00am (0300 GMT) in Moscow.


Soon after Putin’s announcement,  the global benchmark Brent crude oil futures hit $100-per-barrel mark and oil prices rocketed to the $100 a barrel mark for the first time since 2014.

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Governance

CREDAI applauds Gadkaris recommendation to shift Petrochemical Refinery Project from Ratnagiri to Vidarbha

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Nation Next Newsroom | Nagpur

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari

CREDAI Nagpur Metro has applauded the step taken by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for writing a letter to Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri for shifting Ratnagiri Petrochemical Refinery Project to Vidarbha.

CREDAI Nagpur Metro, through a press release stated that many industries will be benefitted from this project. Refinery Petrochemical Complex with many small and large ancillary units may generate 5 lakh direct indirect jobs helping per capita income to grow manifold. With the huge investment of more than 4 lakh crore, massive opportunities will emerge for different sectors. Real estate sector will also get a boost and may attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) also.

The project will not only generate many jobs in Vidarbha but also attract various industries and investments. The organisation stated that this project is a need of hour in Vidarbha to create opportunities for employment and growth of the region. The region will get not give a boost to fuel and LPG companies but also many industries like textiles, soap and detergents, paints, cement, steel etc., which use the petrochemical products.

These ancillary industries will attract jobs for the local people and also from other cities people will turn up. The apex body of builders and developers of Nagpur region welcomed the efforts taken by Vidarbha Economic Development (VED) Council for the project.

The mega refinery project of 60 MMTPA will not only meet future oil demand growth but also boost export of petro-products. This will boost the demand for residential as well as commercial spaces. Steel, cement and all needed building materials available nearby will further help the sector. FlyAsh consumption will increase manifold due to huge consumption of bricks, RMC and project related work.

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