Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (Read full text)

In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 79

In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 79 and sub-section (2) of section 69A, read with sub-section (1) of section 87, clause (z) of sub-section (2) of section 87 and clause (zg) of sub-section (2) of section 87 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000), and in supersession of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011, except as respect things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Central Government hereby makes the following rules, namely:-

PART I: Preliminary

  1. Short Title, Extent & Commencement: – (1) These rules may be called the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. (2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.
  1. Definitions — (1) In these rules, unless the context otherwise requires:

a) ‘Access control mechanism’ means any measure, including a technical measure, through which access to online curated content may be restricted based on verification of the identity or age of a user, to the extent reasonable;

b) ‘Access services’ means any measure, including technical measure such as closed captioning, subtitles and audio descriptions, through which the accessibility of online curated content may be improved for persons with disabilities;

c) ‘Act’ means the Information Technology Act, 2000 (21 of 2000);

d) ‘Appropriate Government’ shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in clause (e) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Act;

e) ‘Broadcast Seva’ means the online portal of the Ministry referred to in rule 16 for receiving, processing and transmitting applications and communication received therein, for enabling communication and coordination with applicants, Government organizations and other persons, and capable of generating analytics and other such information with regard to various parameters;

f) ‘Child’ means any person below the age of eighteen years;

g) ‘Committee’ means the Inter-Departmental Committee constituted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, under rule 13;

h) ‘Communication link’ means a connection between a hypertext or graphical element, and one or more items in the same or different electronic document wherein upon clicking on a hyperlinked item, the user is automatically transferred to the other end of the hyperlink which could be another electronic record or another website or application or graphical element;

i) ‘Content’ means electronic record defined in clause (t) of section 2 of the Act;

j) ‘Content descriptor’ means the issues and concerns which are relevant to the classification of any online curated content, including discrimination, depiction of illegal or harmful substances, imitable behaviour, nudity, language, sex, violence, fear, threat, horror and other such concerns as specified in the Schedule annexed to the rules;

k) ‘Digital Media’ means digitized content that can be transmitted over the internet or computer networks and for the purposes of these rules includes content received, stored or transmitted by:
(i) an intermediary; or (ii) a publisher of news and current affairs content or online curated content.

l) ‘Grievance’ includes any complaint, whether regarding any content, any duties of an intermediary or publisher under the Act, or other matters pertaining to the computer resources of an intermediary or publisher, as the case may be, which is made to an intermediary under Part II of these rules, or made under Part III of these rules;

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m) ‘Intermediary’ shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in clause (w) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Act;

Explanation: For the purpose of these rules, an intermediary includes websites, apps and portals of social media networks, media sharing websites, blogs, online discussion forums and other such functionally similar intermediaries.

n) ‘Ministry’ means the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India;

o) “News and current affairs content’ includes newly received or noteworthy information, including analysis, especially about recent events primarily of socio-political, economic or cultural nature, available over the internet or computer networks;

Explanation: For the purposes of these rules, any digital media shall be news and current affairs content where the context, substance, purpose, import and meaning of such media is in the nature of news and current affairs content.

p) ‘Newspaper’ means a periodical of loosely folded sheets usually printed on newsprint and brought out daily or at least once in a week, containing information on current events, public news or comments on public news;

q) “On demand’ means a system where a user, subscriber or viewer is enabled to access, at a time chosen by such user, any content in electronic form, which is transmitted over a computer resource and is selected by the user;

r) ‘Online curated content’ means any curated catalogue of audio-visual information, other than news and current affairs content, made available on demand, including but not limited through subscription, over the internet or computer networks, and includes films, television programmes, serials, podcasts and other such information;

s) ‘person’ means a person as defined in sub-section (31) of section 2 of the Income tax Act, 1961;

t) ‘publisher’ means a publisher of news and current affairs content or online curated content;

u) ‘publisher of news and current affairs content’, means, an online paper, news portal, news aggregator, news agency and such other publishers of news and current affairs content by whatever name called, but does not include newspapers, replica e-paper of the newspaper and any user generated content which is not transmitted in the course of systematic business activity;

v) ‘publisher of online curated content’ means a publisher which makes available to users a computer resource that enables such users to access online curated content over the internet or computer networks, but does not include an intermediary which merely enables access to online curated content, or which merely enables users to access third party information;

w) ‘resident’ shall have the same meaning as assigned to it in sub-section (42) of section 2 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961);

x) ‘section’ means section of the Act;

y) ‘significant social media intermediary’ means a social media with users above such threshold as may be notified by the Central Government;

z) ‘social media intermediary’ means an intermediary referred to in clause (m) which primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services but shall not include an intermediary which primarily, —
i. enables commercial or business oriented transactions; or
ii. provides access to internet or computer networks; or
iii. is in the nature of a search-engine, on-line encyclopaedia, online directory or suggestion tool, e-mail service or online storage service.

aa) ‘user’ means any person who accesses or avails any computer resource of an intermediary or a publisher for the purpose of hosting, publishing, sharing, transacting, viewing, displaying, downloading or uploading information and includes other persons jointly participating in using such computer resource and includes addressee and originator;

bb) ‘user account’ means the account registration of a user with an intermediary Or publisher and includes profiles, accounts, pages, handles and other similar presences by means of which a user is able to access the services offered by the intermediary or publisher.

(2) Words and expressions used and not defined in these rules but defined in the Act and various rules made thereunder shall have the same meaning assigned to them in the Act and the said rules, as the case may be.

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