IT Ministry to issue clarifications on IT Rules, 2021: What to expect

IT Ministry to issue clarifications on IT Rules, 2021: What to expect
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1 Nov, 2021

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) is expected to issue further clarifications and guidelines to the previously announced Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, or the IT Rules, today. Txhe IzT ministry may seek to better define the responsibilities of social media companies in India, as well as establish penalties directly consequent to actions such as cyber bullying, online harassment and other cyber crimes.

The IT Rules, 2021 sought to make social media intermediaries take up responsibility for actions on its platform. The Rules, which faced considerable criticism from big social media companies in India, require each company to hire Indian citizens in key compliance roles, like a nodal contact officer and a grievance redressal officer. The companies were required to establish mechanisms to address grievances within 24 hours, and also identify the original source of the perpetrator of a cyber crime on the platform.

What to expect from Part II of the IT Rules?

The new set of clarifications may now better establish what constitutes a cyber crime, thereby offering a clearer definition of actions such as online sexual abuse, harassment and related acts. The new rules may also seek to establish exact penalties to both perpetrators and social media companies themselves, giving clarity with regards to the consequences that each party would face. Social media companies, in this regard, may be urged to take a proactive approach in combing their platforms for such acts.

The Indian government will likely also look to offer updated definitions of online criminal acts in the country, which many experts have said are outdated. 

Furthermore, the upcoming, updated IT law may also seek to better safeguard the interest of minors on the internet. On this note, the government’s upcoming clarification may throw light at what is expected of the social media companies when an individual under 18 years of age joins their platforms. 

While cryptocurrencies have been a matter of debate and have risen to mainstream prominence in recent times, the upcoming law may seek to clearly establish how this sector may continue to perform in the country – while being regulated under law. 

In sum, the upcoming set of clarifications may seek to establish firmer compliance to laws and rules of India, from both users as well as companies operating in India. The new law may also indemnify the responsibilities and actions of the appointed contact and grievance officers of social media companies, and better define the roles that they are expected to play.