Gadget Insights: On Wednesday, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting together issued Intermediaries Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code for Digital Media platforms like Online News websites, Social media and Video streaming OTT services. These guidelines deal with digital ethics on online conduct.
After the issues of Disha Ravi’s arrest following a leaked online toolkit and Amazon Prime’s Tandav controversy, the Ministry wanted to issue guidelines on what is right and wrong to do online. Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that these are not any new laws, but merely government’s guide to prevent misuse of the powerful online medium.
In the guidelines issued, there are essentially two classifications based on number of users for each online “intermediary”. First, with 50 lakh users and above, significant social media intermediaries and the second, 50 lakh users and below, social media intermediaries. The guidelines require these platforms to have its own redressal and self-regulatory mechanisms.
OTT Platforms: Guidelines for Social Media and Online platforms
The guidelines suggest a three-level redressal mechanism to OTT platforms:
Level 1: Publisher
Level 2: Self-Regulatory Body
Level 3: Government setup body Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
OTT platforms should come together to establish its own body to administer themselves that should be headed by either by a retired Chief Justice of Supreme Court or suitable person of caliber from the field. The OTT platforms will also have to appoint a Chief Nodal Officer who will oversee complaints.
The OTT platforms and publishers should disclose scope of their content, the content published and the source. It also suggests OTT contents must run scrolls if needed on their content like in Television for viewers to object/complaint objectionable content to a particular organisation. Also, they must properly classify the certification of contents as per ages.
Five age-based categories are to be made, U, U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+ and A. Once complaints received, platforms must immediately remove content that are objectionable to women, children, public consensus, security and the sovereignty of India. Platforms should implement parental locks as well, if necessary.
Just to let you know, WhatsApp has 53 crore users; YouTube has 44.8 crores users; Facebook has 41 crores; Instagram has 21 crores users and Twitter has 1.75 crores users in India.
Social Media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter that command users 50 lakh and above should always trace the first origin of a mischievous/objectionable content and its user. Upon tracing and identifying, the user must be informed and have his/her objectionable content removed.
With these guidelines issued, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said that they just wanted to motivate these online intermediaries to self-regulate and conduct appropriately. The government does not want to clamp freedoms of people unnecessarily at any point.
The government hopes to create a harmonious online community in India with the guideline’s issues.