“Putting Digital Nagriks interest first” – tweeted by Mr. Rajeev Chandrashekar on 6the June 2022, Union Minister of State for MEITY, draws attention to the new term – Digitals Nagriks. Who are the Digital Nagriks? It’s us. The Draft Rules under the Information Technology Act 2000, i.e. the Information Technology Rules (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Social Media Code of Ethics), 2021 spells it out very simply and clearly – all Indians using the internet are digital Nagriks. Pretty catchy as a term. Is not it ? The word Digital NAGRIK appears under the new draft rules which were released as a press release and posted on the website of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on 6e June 2022, and is open for comments until 22n/a June 2022. It’s interesting to see how the IT rules seem to be in line with the upcoming data protection law, as it is notified.
These rules were developed in light of the fact that there should be no compromise on the constitutional rights of Digital Nagriks by any online intermediaries, and it is the right to privacy, which has generated much attention due to whatsapp -twitter and central government rubbing last year.
The main focus of this project is to create a hierarchy for the grievance redress mechanism, update existing due diligence as well as additional due diligence by social media intermediaries.
The time limit has been maintained at 24 (twenty-four) hours not only to be limited to the acknowledgment of the complaint, but also to include the suspension, deletion or blocking of any user or user account and the remedy within 72 (seventy-two) hours if there is a request to remove the information and communication link because in the era of digitization and cyberspace, it does not take time for any content to go viral like a forest fire, with a total period of 15 days for resolution.
There is also the proposal to set up the Grievance Appeals Committee to hear appeals against the decision of the Grievance Officer. However, this does not prevent a user from moving the Court of Justice.
Additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) requires the appointment of a compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer, who must be an employee of such intermediaries and more particularly a resident of India.
The rule that has been in the limelight for all these media intermediaries is to allow the identification of the first sender for any information that may be required under the rules on information technology (procedure and safeguards for the interception, surveillance, decryption of information), 2009. However, it clearly states that such a requirement shall only be by order and to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the ‘state and similar concerns. Nevertheless, the social intermediaries are concerned and have expressed concern as this would lead to a breach of privacy.
When reading these rules, many similarities can be found between the Data Protection Bill, which also calls the Compliance Officer and the Grievance Officer. SSMIs here are very much like big data trustees and certainly the new data protection bill has spoken in terms of social media intermediaries being treated as publishers with the implementation of a mechanism for hold responsible for content posted by unverified accounts on such platforms.
This is a very interesting space to watch as India takes leaps and bounds towards digitalization.
Rachna Shroff, Lawyer with over 12 years of experience as in-house legal counsel with expertise in contract management, litigation, research, compliance and advisory. She is also a gold medalist in MBA-HR. I currently work in the e-gaming space. She is also an Art of Living teacher and hosts Happiness Programs