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Government introduces new rules for digital media and OTT platforms

Amidst growing concerns around lack of transparency, accountability and rights of users related to digital media, the Government of India has set new rules.

According to the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Adult category will be suitable only for 18 year old’s and above.

The OTT platforms are supposed to self-classify the content into five categories – U (universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (adult). Platforms would also be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher.

There is also a three-level grievance redressal mechanism that has been established under the rules with two levels of self-regulation. Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with such complaints and share the name and contact details of such officer. Grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.

Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that exposes the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual act or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc.

Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.

While finalizing these Rules, both the Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting undertook elaborate consultations with public and stakeholders.

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