The information technology sector is the fastest and the largest growing sector in India. It is irrefutable to say that life without technology in 21st century is impossible. The day starts with technology and ends with technology and being the most important part of life it needs to be amended with the change in circumstances. The law which specifically made for IT sectors is Information Technology Act, 2000; its basic purpose is to recognition to e-commerce and e-transaction and also to protect the users from digital crimes. Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, was in 2018 and now these IT Rules repealed with Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
Why there is need to amend IT laws?
The main reason to amend the rules again and again is to keep the law updated with the changes, till now the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules are amended three times including the recent one to make necessary changes with the evolution of new things and offence related to it. Section 79 of IT Act is a safe harbour provision for the intermediaries as it grants immunity to intermediaries with regard to third party information.
Recent amended Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (hereinafter referred as IT Rules, 2021):
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released the IT Rules, 2021 on February 5, 2021. The rules replace the original IT Rules 2011 and are promulgated under the IT Act, 2000. The Rules mandate the companies to make necessary changes in the data and implement new notification procedure.
IT Rules 2021 is the recent updation in IT laws and the amendment clarifies the major crimes related to IT sector and the rules for managing digital media. The main objective of the rules is to avert:
- The spread of false news on digital platform.
- Widespread abuse of social media to share.
- Increase in harmful language.
- Disrespect the religious sentiments by many ways.
- Morphed images of woman (online).
- Revenge Porn
Definition of Intermediaries:
The word intermediary is defined by the Information Technology Act, 2000 (hereinafter referred as IT Act, 2000.) as “any person who on behalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that record or provides any service with respect to that record and includes telecom service providers, web-housing service providers, search engines, online payment sites, online auction sites, online market places and cyber cafes”.
Significant social media intermediary means a social media intermediary having number of registered users in India above such threshold as notified by the Central Government (Defined under sec 2(v) of IT rules, 2021).
Social Media Intermediary means s an intermediary which primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services (Defined under sec 2(w) of IT rules, 2021).
What are the mandatory compliances for Intermediaries?
It is mandatory for all intermediaries to:
- Once in a year information must be given to user if they do not comply with rules and regulations or in change in the rules and regulations in it.
- Right to terminate user’s access and remove non submissive information.
- To retain information of registering person for 180 days even after the cancellation of registration.
- Must have to respond within 72 hours to the government if the matter is related to cyber security or protective investigation; information related to offences; information about identity verification; the intermediary control or processes.
New Appointments: According to the IT Rules, 2021, significant social media intermediaries are required to appoint Indian residents on three following posts: –
- Chief Compliance Officer: The Chief Compliance Officer must be appointed according to the new IT rules. The officer has to comply with the rules and regulations of IT Act, 2000 and IT Rules, 2021.
- Nodal Contact Person: The officer has to keep 24×7 contact with the law enforcement agencies.
- Grievance Officer: There must be a grievance officer to maintain the grievance redressal mechanism.
The new Rules bring drastic change in the IT Sector since new mandatory compliances have been introduced. Now OTT platforms, online news, and digital media entities are required to follow a Code of Ethics. The latest rules’ primary objective is to empower regular users of social media platforms and OTT platforms with a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of the grievances.
Associate at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali