Government slaps new guidelines to regulate social media and OTT platforms

OTT Platforms

No doubt, social media, and OTT platforms are taking the Internet to a storm. However, the platforms are grossly misused by those elements that create panic and trouble among the community. The Narendra Modi-led Government has released new guidelines for social media and OTT platforms. Even though the new rules are intended not to regulate the platforms, the companies will have to be accountable for harmful content including fake news.

The new social media rules invoke a three-tier regulation mechanism for OTT platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube, AltBalaji, and much more. The companies will not have to classify their content based on age and should span over five categories.

The Government claims that the soft-touch oversight rules are the need of the hour to hold social media and OTT platforms accountable for misuse and abuse. Moreover, the companies like Amazon and Netflix will have to establish a strong grievance redressal mechanism with a dedicated official in India. Talking about social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the respective companies should black connect within 24 hours of either Government or judicial order.

Going forward, social media and OTT platforms will have to refresh their business models to stay in line with the new regulations. Meanwhile, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed that the Government is open to criticism and right to dissent. However, it’s equally important to provide social media users with a forum to raise their complaints against the misuse and abuse of platforms in a time-bound manner. The administrative powers for OTT regulations and digital news platforms will be under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

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The social media companies will have to establish a grievances cell with a full-time officer based in India to address complaints. The contact details will have to be shared on the platform and he/she should hold an Indian passport. The companies will also have to appoint chief compliance officer, who will be responsible to ensure the implementation of the new rules. A nodal contact person will coordinate with law enforcement agencies.

The Government of India also made it mandatory for social media companies and OTT platforms to submit a monthly compliance report. This should include the description of the complaint, action taken, and redressal of complaints. The companies should trace the origin of the first poster in case of any dispute or upon request from the Government or court. With huge number of forwardings, it’s imperative for the companies to identify the origin of the malicious/hate/racist posts and tweets.

Commenting on the development, Facebook disclosed that they welcome new regulations that set guidelines for addressing toughest challenges on the web. The company will study the rules in detail and will take steps. Twitter is yet to respond to the new guidelines. It will be tough to deal with Jack but Twitter will have to abide by the rule of the land.

The Government also framed the rules in such a way that social media platforms should give users a chance to explain before removing access to the account. It has become a habit for companies like Google to remove access to their web properties without giving a chance to hear the party. The Government will also establish a self-regulatory body headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge, who will ensure compliance with ethics and rules. The IT ministry will also create an inter-departmental committee to look into the complaints.

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Anand Narayanaswamy is the editor-in-chief of Netans. He was recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 9 years (2002 to 2011) and again as a Microsoft MVP in Surface under Windows and Devices in January 2024. He worked as a Chief Technical Editor with ASPAlliance and was part of ASPInsider program. Anand has published several articles and reviews related to various software and hardware products for various software and technology related websites. He is also active on social media and also participates as an Influencer for various brands. Anand can be reached at admin@netans.com