Govt unveils new guidelines for OTT platforms, social media

Chennai: The Union government today unveiled new policies for social media and over the top (OTT) platforms.

Speaking to the media, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the new guidelines will keep an eye on the web content/OTT content and empower social media users.

‘Social media is welcome for doing business in India, but such content is coming on social media, which cannot be called civilized in any way. Such complaints came to us a lot,’ he said.

Prasad added: ‘A forum should be there for the problem of social media users. Social media is being used to spread hatred. Terrorists are also using social media. Complaints of wrong use of social media have been coming for many years, there is also the menace of fake news.’

Following are some of the highlights of the new guidelines

* The OTT platforms are supposed to self-classify the content into five categories – U (universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (adult).

* Platforms would also be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘A’.
* Publishers of news on digital media would be required to implement Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act, thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print/ TV) and digital media.

* Social media intermediaries have to appoint a grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours.

* Social media platforms must have provision for voluntary verification of users.

* Social media platforms on being asked by court or govt will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischief info.

* Grievance redressal official must be resident in India; monthly compliance reports have to be filed by social media platforms.