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Platforms with over 50 lakh users to be ‘significant social media intermediaries’


Social media companies with more than 50 lakh registered users will be considered ‘significant social media intermediaries’, as per the new norms under the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code of 2021, the Central government has clarified.

As per the new guidelines, significant social media intermediaries have been asked to observe additional due diligence such as appointment of a chief compliance officer, a grievance and a resident grievance officer and a nodal person for round-the-clock co-ordination with law enforcement agencies. Tech conglomerates such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, all of which have more than 50 lakh users in the country will have to follow these norms now.

While the name and details of the grievance officer will have to be published on the website or the app as may be needed, the chief compliance officer, the resident grievance officer and the nodal person for co-ordination with law enforcement agencies will have to operate out of offices situated in India.

Apart from these, all significant social media intermediaries will also have to publish a monthly compliance report in which it will have to furnish details of the number of complaints it received during the month, number of links or content that it took down during the period, the action taken on the complaints received and whether it had proactively taken down any content that was illegal or unlawful. Significant social media intermediaries, which operate in the instant messaging domain now, have the additional task of mandatorily identifying the “first originator of the information” if such an order is passed by a court of competent jurisdiction or by a government order passed under section 69 of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

Such orders, however, the government had said, would be limited only for the purposes of “prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order”.

In addition, the order to track the “first originator of information” can also be passed to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute any messages in relation to “rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material”, according to the new rules.

On Saturday, the government also clarified that no new provisions had been made to give the Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary any fresh “emergency blocking powers” after some reports claiming the same surfaced. In a release, the IT Ministry said since an “exact same provision” was currently being exercised by the IT Secretary, the same powers had now been extended to the I&B secretary as the administration of digital news media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms was under the I&B Ministry now.

The new rules for OTT platforms, notified on Thursday, had called for a three-tier regulation mechanism. The new notifications also require them to self-classify their content into five categories based on age suitability.

Asked to observe additional due diligence

As per the new guidelines, significant social media intermediaries have been asked to observe additional due diligence such as appointment of a chief compliance officer, a grievance and a resident grievance officer and a nodal person for round-the-clock co-ordination with law enforcement agencies.

While the name and details of the grievance officer will have to be published on the website or the app as may be needed, the chief compliance officer, the resident grievance officer and the nodal person for co-ordination with law enforcement agencies will have to operate out of offices situated in India.



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