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The new Information Technology (IT) Rules: 

GS Paper 2

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 

 

Context: 

Twitter has appointed a permanent Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), a Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) and a Nodal Contact Person in compliance with the new Information Technology (IT) Rules. 

 

What’s the issue? 

The Supreme Court had recently expressed reservations over Twitter changing the status of the CCO appointment from “interim” to “contingent” in its affidavit. 

  • The IT rules mandated the appointment of a senior employee as CCO, but Twitter had appointed a “contingent worker” through a third party contractor. This was opposed by the Centre. 

 

What the rules say? 

Twitter Inc is admittedly an ‘intermediary’ within the meaning of Section 2(1)(w) of IT Act, 2000, and an SSMI (Significant Social Media Intermediary) under the IT Rules 2021. 

  • SSMIs are required to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer, and a grievance officer — all whom are required to be residents of India, according to the IT rules. 

 

What happens in case of non compliance? 

  • Any non-compliance amounts to breach of provisions of IT Rules, leading to Twitter losing its immunity as an “intermediary”
  • A loss of its intermediary status, which provides its immunity from liabilities over any third-party data hosted by it, makes it liable for criminal action in case of complaints. 

 

Background: 

On February 25, the Centre framed the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, in the exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, which will come into effect from May 26. 

 

Overview of the new rules: 

  1. It mandates a grievance redressal system for over the top (OTT) and digital portals in the country. This is necessary for the users of social media to raise their grievance against the misuse of social media. 
  2. Significant social media firms have to appoint a chief compliance officer and have a nodal contact person who can be in touch with law enforcement agencies 24/7. 
  3. A grievance officer: Social media platforms will also have to name a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and dispose of it in 15 days. 
  4. Removal of content: If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly women – about exposed private parts of individuals or nudity or sexual act or impersonation etc – social media platforms will be required to remove that within 24 hours after a complaint is made. 
  5. A monthly report: They also will have to publish a monthly report about the number of complaints received and the status of redressal. 
  6. There will be three levels of regulation for news publishers — self-regulation, a self-regulatory body, headed by a retired judge or an eminent person, and oversight from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, including codes of practices and a grievance committee. 

 

InstaLinks: 

Prelims Link: 

  1. Overview of the new rules. 
  2. Who are intermediaries as per the definition? 
  3. What is safe harbour protection? 
  4. Grievance redressal mechanism as provided under the new rules. 

Mains Link: 

What are the concerns being raised against the new IT rules? Discuss ways to address these concerns. 

Sources: the Hindu.