Draft amendments to IT Rules 2021: Key Facts

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY) has published draft amendments to the Information Technology Rules 2021. The ministry has claimed that these would rules will be ensuring that the constitutional rights of the citizens of the nation are not violated by big tech platforms. The ministry has informed the users that the draft amendment is being offered for public comments and consultations from all stakeholders for the next 30 days. The ministry will also be holding a formal public consultation meeting by mid-June.

What do you know about the IT Rules 2021?

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics) Rules was enforced in February 2021 and have brought in additional compliance requirements for all significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) such as the appointment of:

  • nodal person for coordination
  • chief compliance officer
  • grievance officer.

Under the rules, the SSMIs were also required to trace the first originator of information on their platform. SSMIs are those platforms having more than 5 million subscribers. Under the IT Rules, a three-tier grievance handling system pertaining to online news and streaming services were also implemented. The three-tier grievance handling system is as follows:

  • First level: Grievances are handled within the organization.
  • Second level: A self-regulatory body handles the grievances.
  • Third level: A government-run committee handles the grievances and they can override any decision taken at the other two levels.

How did the Social Media companies react to the policy?

Ever since the IT Rules came into effect in May 2021, various social media companies in India clashed with the Union Government regarding the IT Rules 2021. A few petitions were also lodged challenging the rules. Eventually, the intermediaries complied with the rules, but the government still had issues regarding the way they were being complied with. This was evident when MeitY while announcing the draft, announced that the amendments will be ensuring the actual enforcement of the IT Rules 2021.

What are the draft amendments that have been proposed?

In the draft amendment to the IT Rules 2021, the ministry has brought in a new clause under which the intermediaries will be required to respect the rights that have been guaranteed to the users under the Indian constitution. Also, MeiTY has brought in a new Grievance Appellate Committee that will be providing an additional mechanism to appeal the decisions that have been made by the grievance officers of the intermediaries. This committee will also be having the power of overruling any decision that has been made by the grievance officers of the intermediaries, including the removal or blocking of any user or users on social media platforms. Lastly, MeiTY has proposed a change in the grievance redressal mechanism. Under this new change, the intermediaries must address any grievances regarding the removal of content from platforms within 72 hours. For any other grievances, the existing timeframe of 15 days’ will continue.


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