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New Delhi : Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State ( MoS) for Electronics & Information Technology, on November 1, 2021, released a document clarifying the doubts and explaining the nuances of the due diligence to be followed by intermediaries as part of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (“IT Rules, 2021”).

In response to general queries received by MeitY on these Rules, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been prepared. The FAQs are limited to Part II of these Rules to be administered by MeitY, according to a PIB release.

Releasing the FAQs document, MoS Chandrasekhar said that India is one of the foremost countries in the world to harness the power of technology for primarily 3 objectives which includes transforming lives of People, Creating, and expanding economic opportunities by expanding digital economy and developing capabilities in strategic areas.

Chandrasekhar said that government is committed to provide Open, Safe, Trusted and Accountable internet to all users whose number is increasing both in urban and rural areas.

FAQ & its significance

This FAQ, consisting of 28 questions, attempts to respond to general queries on these Rules in a simple and easily understandable manner for a common user and also for intermediaries.

The FAQ consists of Four sections, namely-

o Section I: Basic Information

o Section II: Basic Terminology and Scope of the Rules

o Section III: Due Diligence by an Intermediary

o Section IV: Additional Due Diligence by Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMI)

o Section V: Non-Compliance to Intermediary Rules

Section I comprises the basic information like- objective of these rules; effective date; process followed in evolving these rules; major changes over the erstwhile Intermediary Guidelines Rules 2011; how these rules can be leveraged for enhancing safety of women and children from potential harms; how these rules are also consistent with the requirement of safeguard against user’s privacy, freedom of speech and expression being fundamental rights; how user can be benefitted, etc.

Section II comprises the basic terminology and scope of the Rules like- which entities can qualify as ‘intermediary’; Which intermediaries qualify as a ‘social media intermediary’; and ‘significant social media intermediaries’ (SSMI), etc.

Section III comprises the nuances of the due diligence to be followed by intermediaries like- information to be provided by the Appropriate Govt.; what and how much user information to be retained by intermediary; prominently publishing of grievance officer details; adherence to various prescribed timeframes by intermediary, etc.

Section IV comprises the nuances of the additional due diligence to be followed by SSMI like- modalities in appointing designated manpower resources based in India; details of monthly compliance reports and their level of granularity; etc.

Section V comprises  the grounds of Non-Compliances to Intermediary Rules.

In order to ensure an Open, Safe & Trusted Internet and accountability of intermediaries including the social media intermediaries to users, the Government of India notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 ( “IT Rules, 2021”) on  February 25, 2021. Part II of these Rules, administered by MeitY, prescribe the due diligence to be followed by all intermediaries as well as the additional due diligence to be followed by significant social media intermediaries.

Part III of the Rules, administered by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), also provide guidelines to be followed by publishers of news and current affairs and also online curated content providers.