Govt notifies amendments to IT Rules, tightens social media regulations, intermediaries must comply with constitution & laws, introduces Grievance Appellate Committees

On October 28, 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022 (“Amendment Rules”). The key developments are highlighted below:

  1. The Amendment Rules now obligate the intermediaries to prominently publish on its website, mobile based application or both, as the case may be, the rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement in English or any language specified in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
  2. Intermediaries are also now required to exercise ‘reasonable efforts’ to ensure that the users are not posting any content which is obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s rights/privacy/Intellectual Property, insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, harmful to children, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, amongst others.
  3. The Amendment Rules also mandates the intermediaries to take all reasonable measures to ensure accessibility of its services to users along with reasonable expectations of due diligence, privacy and transparency. The intermediaries are required to respect all rights accorded to citizens under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
  4. Intermediaries are also now required to inform their users at least once a year of these rules, regulations and privacy policy as well notify in case of any change.
  5. The appointed Grievance Officer will be required to acknowledge any complaint received within 24 hours and dispose of the same within 15 days from its receipt. Any complaint pertaining to any prohibited content as envisaged in the Rules should be disposed of within 72 hours. This timeline excludes complaints relating to any IP issue or content that violates any law in force. There is however no clarity  as to what laws will be covered.
  6. One or more government appointed appellate committee (GAC) are to be set up within three months. Each GAC is to have a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the Central Government, one of which shall be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members.
  7. Any person aggrieved from the decision of the Grievance Officer may prefer an appeal to GAC within 30 days from the date of the receipt of the decision.
  8. Upon receipt of appeal, GAC shall deal with such appeal expeditiously and endevour to resolve the appeal within a period of 30 days. Every order of the GAC should be complied with and the intermediary should upload a report to that effect on its website.
  9. The Amendment Rules also mandates an online mode of dispute resolution by the GAC wherein the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted through digital mode.

The notification can be accessed here.

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