The Indian government has issued the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The Rules propose significant changes in how internet intermediaries are regulated in India, and propose new regulatory mechanisms for digital media outlets and streaming services. The government is empowering ordinary users of social media services, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said, while announcing the Rules in a press conference on Thursday. They said the basic essence of the Rules was a "soft touch oversight mechanism". Prasad said that the government is insisting upon platforms to develop their own mechanisms to monitor and take down content, while building robust grievance redressal systems. Crucially, the Rules mandate large social media companies (read: WhatsApp), to allow identifying the originator of messages, essentially threatening the integrity of end-to-end encryption-based communication. The government has also brought a code of ethics for digital media outlets and OTT streaming platforms. Javadekar, while announcing the code, said that the government has understood the need for a "level playing field" for all media platforms. "All media platforms must have same justice system. Whether digital, print, TV or OTT, some rules have to followed. Some processes have to be set and the people have demanded them. Every day, I am getting many complaints on this," he said. For OTT platforms, the Rules propose a self-regulation body headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge, or a "very eminent person". They also call for grievance redressal system. Social…
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