Over 1,500 digital news websites and OTT platforms submit company details to Center, report finds

More than 1,500 digital news websites and OTT platforms have sent their corporate and operational information to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), reported The imprint. About 1,460 digital news websites and 40 OTT platforms from all regions and languages ​​have submitted their business details, a government source said.

This came after the I&B Department issued a public notice on May 26, seeking information on digital news websites and OTT platforms under Rule 18 of the 2021 Technology Rules. information (intermediate directives and code of ethics for digital media). new IT guidelines published in February, were to be provided within 15 days of publication of the notice.

India strongly rejects criticism of the new IT rules by UN special rapporteurs:

India on Sunday rejected criticism of its new IT rules on social media by three UN special rapporteurs on rights issues, saying the country’s democratic credentials are well recognized and the right to free speech and expression is guaranteed by its Constitution.

“Concerns alleging the potential implications for freedom of expression that the new computer rules will entail are quite misplaced,” India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva said in a strongly worded response, saying that the rules are “designed to empower ordinary users” of social media.

The enactment of these rules had become necessary amid widespread concerns about the increase in cases of abuse of social media and digital platforms, he said.

The upper house of parliament had repeatedly called on the government to strengthen the legal framework and hold social media platforms accountable under Indian laws and the rules were developed after lengthy deliberation, he noted.

In addition, the Supreme Court of India in two judgments ordered him to formulate the necessary guidelines to eliminate child pornography and related content from online platforms and also declared that it was imperative to define a regime. appropriate for discovering the people, institutions and organizations that were the authors of these content posts.

“The Permanent Mission of India also wishes to stress that India’s democratic credentials are well recognized. The right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution ”, she declared in a communication to the rapporteurs. “Independent justice and strong media are part of the democratic structure of India,” he added.

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy have expressed concerns about India’s IT rules, 2021.

“The fear that the rules will be deliberately misused to lodge a large number of complaints in order to overwhelm the grievance mechanisms created by social media platforms is also misplaced, exaggerated and misleading and shows a lack of will to respond to the grievances of users of these media platforms while using their data to generate revenue, ”the Indian mission said in its response.

The rapporteurs said the rules in their current form did not conform to international human rights standards and insisted on a detailed review.

“We would like to reiterate that restrictions on freedom of expression should never be invoked to justify the muzzling of any advocacy in favor of multiparty democracy, democratic principles and human rights,” the rapporteurs said in a statement. communication.

Under the new rules, social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are required to appoint nodal agents and create mechanisms to remove offending posts and messages.

US tech giant Twitter has engaged in a scuffle with Indian authorities over the new rules. The government has accused the company of failing to comply with the new rules that came into effect at the end of last month.

The Indian mission also said that under the new rules, social media companies are required to appoint India-based grievance officers, compliance officers and nodal agents to handle user complaints.

“The enactment of new IT rules had become necessary due to widespread concerns about issues related to increasing cases of abuse of social media and digital platforms, including incitement to recruit terrorists, dissemination of content obscene, the spread of discord, financial fraud, incitement of violence, public order, etc.

The mission said that before the rules were notified, users did not have the option to file a complaint about misuse or abuse of social media platforms.

Referring to a Supreme Court verdict, he said the Indian government fully recognizes and respects the right to privacy.

He said the new IT rules only look for information about a message already in circulation that resulted in a breach, saying they were framed in the exercise of statutory IT law powers, taking full account of the requirements of the IT law. principles of reasonableness and proportionality. .

“The rules aim to empower users by mandating intermediaries, including social media intermediaries, to establish a grievance mechanism to receive and resolve complaints from users or victims,” the mission said.

“Intermediaries will appoint a grievance manager to handle such complaints and share the name and contact details of that manager,” he added.

Center for issuing SOPs for new IT rules:

The Center is expected to soon publish a standard operating procedure (SOP) on the new IT rules, reported business today. The Center will consult with industry and stakeholders, and address their concerns about the new rules, the report adds.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will also publish a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to simplify the rules requirements. An official said the daily that the FAQs will be in a very simple format, explaining IT rules, but SOPs may take longer due to consultations with various stakeholders, the report further mentioned.

(With PTI inputs)

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