Rationale behind New Information Technology Rules, 2021


Social media is a direct product of the globalized internet, which connects people all over the globe. It significantly impacts economic, social, and political discourse in a country. Hence, the government formulated new Information Technology Rules, 2021 to regulate them and prevent their misuse.

  • The internet has revolutionized the world, and we are now in the process of a transition from the industrial to the internet age. 
  • This transition would affect how we see economics, politics, society, governance, democracy, and our fundamental rights. Therefore, it becomes imperative to improve the regulatory framework over the internet and social media. 
  • It is in this context that new Information Technology Rules, 2021 were formulated by the Government of India.
About Social Media:
  • Social media is a direct product of the globalised internet which connects people all over the globe. 
  • It allows people to converse with each other through profiles both known and anonymous. It allows the transmission of information in real-time across the world. 
Information Technology Rules, 2021 related to Social Media:
  • Social media companies are prohibited from hosting or publishing any unlawful information. 
    • Information obtained in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries, etc. can be deemed unlawful. The government can order takedown of such information within 24 hours.
  • The user should be given a notice before its content is taken down.
  • The government can direct messaging platforms to tie the identity of the user with the message transmitted by him/her for strengthening traceability.
  • The rules call for social media companies to publish a monthly compliance report as well.
  • Social media platforms are classified into two categories – social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries, the latter being platforms with a large user base.
  • The significant social media intermediaries will be obliged to follow some additional measures like:
    • Appointing a Chief Compliance Officer, Nodal Contact Person, and a Resident Grievance Officer in India. All of them should be Indian Residents.
      • The chief Compliance Officer shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
      • Nodal Contact Person will do 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
      • Resident Grievance Officer shall receive and resolve complaints from users. The officer must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days of receipt.
    • These platforms should also have a physical contact address in India, which should be notified on the website and apps.
Rationale behind New Social Media Rules:
  1. First, the rules invoke a minimum regulatory standard on social media. This brings it to par with newspapers, magazines, and websites that are responsible for the content published over them. 
    • The companies are still considered as an intermediary and continue to enjoy immunity under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.
      • Section 79 states that an intermediary shall not be liable for any third-party information hosted by it if it duly follows the guidelines released by the government.
    • Further, they have screening teams that can duly remove objectionable content. 
      • For instance, Twitter deleted some tweets of former US President Donald Trump in January 2021 and later suspended his account.
  2. Second, the freedom of speech enjoyed over social media is derived from Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. It is subject to the restriction of Article 19(2) that includes public order, security of the state, defamation, etc. grounds. Hence, due restrictions can be imposed on social media.
  3. Third, social media has become a public square in which the most important conversations on politics and society are discussed. Therefore, its regulation becomes imperative for overall societal wellbeing.
  4. Fourth, social media is a commercial product that is being offered with the objective of money-making. Hence, it should be regulated like other commercial products.
    • The fact that a commercial product could be used for a social purpose does not make the product a social good.
  5. Fifth, the big social media companies sometimes attempt to regulate the policies of the government as per their will. This may grow into economic exploitation and political intervention on a grand scale if not duly regulated. 
    • Large-scale intervention can lead to disastrous results, as was shown by the East India Company’s dominant control in the past which led to India’s colonisation.

Source: Click Here    

 Read Also :-New social media rules – an analysis

Print Friendly and PDF