Indian government’s tough guidelines on nudity and other issues on social media & digital platforms

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has announced its draft Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, for social media platforms, OTT players & digital media.

It also inclkudes significant recommendations on asking social media companies to give out the originator of a message or tweet as the case may be.

This means that the Indian government is posing new challenges for social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Netflix.

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These firms count as Asia’s third-largest economy as their key overseas market.

Briefing the media, Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar welcomed social media platforms to do business in India.

“We have received many complaints that some of the content on social media is impinging on the dignity of many users.”

They praised the social media giants for garnering popularity and good number of users in India. 

But the ministers pointed out that it is very important to regulate the the actions of social media agencies in India.

The government wants social media companies to have a mechanism to address complaints from users.

“If there are complaints against the dignity of users, particularly woman that exploits their private parts of individuals or nudity or in sexual acts, impersonation, etc, you will be required to remove that within 24 hours” 

The Ministers said that any content involving nudity, morphed pictures of women have to be removed within 24 hours of order.

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These Rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette.

The Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), a powerful industry body that represents nearly all on-demand streaming services in India, have expressed concerns over the new proposed regulation.

Ravi Shankar Prasad said:

“There is a rationale behind framing the new guidelines. The Supreme Court had asked us to frame guidelines to cut down hate content and there are also many orders of the high courts. … The government has done widespread consultation after drafting the rules.”

With the new rules, India joins Australia and other countries across the world trying to regulate social media platforms. 

The number of user base on these platforms in India are as follows: WhatsApp 53 crore; YouTube 44.8 crore; Facebook 41 crore; Instagram 21 crore; and Twitter 1.75 crore.