The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is expected to soon issue detailed guidelines or standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the proper implementation of IT rules, which will clarify the powers of authorities, especially in under Section 69 (A) and Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, senior government officials said.
The SOP is also likely to outline the civil and criminal responsibilities of the Node Contact Person, Resident Grievance Officer and Compliance Officer in the event of non-compliance with any of the rules prescribed in the Intermediary Guidelines. and the better known rules of the code of ethics for digital media. like the rules of information technology (IT), said a senior MeitY official.
“We have received representations from the industry and are aware that there has been some confusion, particularly on the criminal liability part and which government agencies have the power to send takedown notices. The SOPs will set the guidelines very clearly and delineate powers, ”said one of the officials.
Article 69 (A) of the IT law gives the Center the power to “block public access or block public access to any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted on a computer resource” .
During this time, under article 79, any intermediary will not be held legally or otherwise responsible for the information, data or communication link of third parties made available or hosted on its platform.
This protection, the law specifies, is applicable if the said intermediary does not initiate the transmission of the message in question in any way, selects the recipient of the message transmitted and does not modify any information contained in the transmission.
Over the past month, executives from several social media intermediaries met with senior MeitY officials and explained the need for an urgent release of the SOP. The need was again felt by intermediaries in August, following controversy over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s post on social media platforms, in which he posted a photo of the parents of a Dalit girl. nine-year-old who was allegedly raped.
The photo sparked controversy and was later deleted by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Simultaneously, the National Commission for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (NCPCR) sent legal notices to the platforms as well as to Gandhi. Although all three platforms deleted Gandhi’s tweet and post, they claimed it was done based on their internal posting guidelines and not on notices sent by the NCPCR.
Twitter was the first to lock Gandhi out of his account, allowing him to access it only to delete the tweet. Although Gandhi later submitted a consent letter from the girl’s parents on Twitter, the platform still had not allowed general public access to the tweet and said it would remain under wraps as it is contrary to the rules of the Law on the Protection of Children against Sexual Offenses.