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40 streaming platforms, 1,800 news publishers have submitted data to I&B Ministry under IT Rules

The IT Rules require streaming services and digital news publishers to hire grievance officers and submit to a three-tier complaint mechanism with the government at the top.

Over 40 over-the-top (OTT) streaming services and 1,800 news publishers have submitted information about themselves to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting under the Information Technology (Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the MIB said in Parliament on Friday.

“The Ministry has also carried out outreach and webinars with the publishers for effective implementation of the Rules,” I&B Minister Anurag Thakur told BJP Members of Parliament Arjunlal Meena and PP Chaudhary in the Lok Sabha. “The Ministry has received communication from several associations and representatives of digital news publishers and OTT platforms regarding constitution of self-regulating bodies under the Rules,” Thakur added, without providing much detail on what bodies had been approved by the ministry.

Why this matters: The IT Rules, which require streaming services and digital news organisations to hire compliance officers and be a part of a self-regulatory body, appears to be facing more resistance from news organisations than from streaming services, as most large OTT platforms appear to be complying without protesting, whereas news organisations have filed multiple cases in courts (see below).

IT Rules and legal challenges

In cases before High Courts and the Supreme Court, news organisations and individuals have argued that the IT Rules are burdensome, unconstitutional, could lead to self-censorship, and an overreach of the government’s powers. The government has filed to have these cases transferred to the Supreme Court. The Kerala High Court on July 9 granted the websites of TV broadcasters relief against any coercive action from the government over the Rules. On Thursday, Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam filed a statutory motion to strike the Rules down.

On IT Rules provisions that apply to social media intermediaries, WhatsApp has moved the Delhi High Court to challenge a “traceability” requirement in the Rules they claim could compromise the service’s security. This provision of the Rules basically forces messaging platforms like WhatsApp to aid the government in tracing the originator of a forwarded message.

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Here are the legal challenges to the IT Rules outstanding in courts across the country:

  1. Digital News Publishers Association & anr v. Union of India & anr: Madras High Court, Petition.
  2. TM Krishna v. Union of India & anr: Hearing scheduled for July 14, no update on the Madras High Court website since. Petition.
  3. The News Broadcasters Association v. Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology: Kerala High Court, stay on coercive action granted.
  4. Foundation for Independent Journalism v. Union of India: Delhi High Court, Petitioninterim stay refused twice.
  5. Live Law Media Private Limited & ors v. Union of India & anr: Kerala High Court, Petition, stay on coercive action granted.
  6. Sanjay Kumar Singh v. Union of India & ors: Delhi High Court, Petition, tagged with FIJ v. UoI.
  7. Quint Digital Media Limited & anr v. Union of India & anr: Delhi High Court, Petition, tagged with FIJ v. UoI.
  8. Press Trust of India v. Union of India & anr: Delhi High Court, Petition, tagged with FIJ v. UoI.
  9. AGIJ Promotion Of Nineteenonea Media Pvt Ltd & anr v. Union of India & anr: Bombay High Court, Petition, proceedings reportedly deferred in view of transfer petition.

Full question and answer

QUESTION

Will the Minister of INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING be pleased to state:-

(a) the details of the total number of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms and digital news media platforms which have complied to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021; and

(b) the details of the self-regulating bodies which have been formed along with the members of each of these self-regulating bodies?

ANSWER

THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCSTING; AND MINISTER OF YOUTH AFFAIRS AND SPORTS (SHRI ANURAG SINGH THAKUR):
(a): The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 have been notified on 25.2.2021 for compliance by the publishers of news and current affairs on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT Platforms). More than 40 OTT platforms and 1800 digital news publishers have also given requisite information to the Ministry under the Rules. The Ministry has also carried out outreach and webinars with the publishers for effective implementation of the Rules.
(b):The Ministry has received communication from several associations and representatives of digital news publishers and OTT platforms regarding constitution of self-regulating bodies under the Rules.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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