Google removed 59,350 posts in April due to IT Rules, 2021
IT Rules 2021 and analysis
The Kerala High Court restrained the Centre from taking coercive action against Live Law Media Private Ltd., which owns a legal news portal, for not complying with Part III of the new IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The court issued notice to the Centre on a petition filed by the firm challenging the rules regulating digital news media, curated content (OTT platforms), and social media intermediaries.
The petition said Part III of the rules imposed unconstitutional three-tier complaints and adjudication structure on publishers.
This administrative regulation on digital news media would make it virtually impossible for small or medium-sized publishers, such as the petitioner, to function. It would have a chilling effect on such entities, the petition said.
The creation of a grievance redressal mechanism, through a governmental oversight body (an inter-departmental committee constituted under Rule 14) amounted to excessive regulation, it contended.
The petitioner pointed out that Rule 4(2), which makes it mandatory for every social media intermediary to enable the tracing of originators of information on its platform, purportedly in furtherance of Section 69 of the IT Act, violated Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression).
It also deprived the intermediaries of their “safe-harbour protections” under Section 79 of the IT Act.
The petition also added that the rules obligating messaging intermediaries to alter their infrastructure to “fingerprint” each message on a mass scale for every user to trace the first originator was violative of the fundamental right to privacy of Internet users.
Summary of IT Rules 2021
Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 have been framed under the Information Technology Act, 2000, and it supersedes the IT Rules, 2011.
It will ensure a harmonious, soft-touch oversight mechanism in relation to the social media platforms, digital media and OTT platforms etc.
Part- II of these Rules to Social Media shall be administered by the Ministry of Electronics and IT.
These Rules empower the users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances on infringement of their rights.
If due diligence is not followed by the intermediaries, including social media, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them.
Grievance Officer, appointed by intermediaries, shall acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours and resolve it within 15 days.
Ensures online safety and dignity of users, especially women, by removing or disabling the contents within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents.
A distinction between social media intermediaries and significant social media intermediaries is made, based on the number of users.
Chief Compliance Officer shall be appointed for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
Nodal Contact Person shall be appointed for 24x7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
Part-III on Ethics Code in relation to digital media shall be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
This Code of Ethics prescribes the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.
OTT platforms would self-classify the content into 5 age based categories - U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, A (Adult).
Publishers of digital news would observe the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.
• A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with 3 levels of self-regulation.
Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
These new rules broadly deal with social media and over-the-top (OTT) platforms.
These rules have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011.
Following are the features of the new rules
1. Categories of Social Media Intermediaries:
Based on the number of users, on the social media platform intermediaries have been divided in two groups:
Social media intermediaries.
Significant social media intermediaries.
2. Due Diligence to be Followed by Intermediaries:
In case, due diligence is not followed by the intermediary, safe harbour provisions will not apply to them.
The safe harbour provisions have been defined under Section 79 of the IT Act, and protect social media intermediaries by giving them immunity from legal prosecution for any content posted on their platforms.
3. Grievance Redressal Mechanism is Mandatory:
Intermediaries shall appoint a Grievance Officer to deal with complaints and share the name and contact details of such officers.
The grievance Officer shall acknowledge the complaint within twenty-four hours and resolve it within fifteen days from its receipt.
4. Ensuring Online Safety and Dignity of Users:
Intermediaries shall remove or disable access within 24 hours of receipt of complaints of contents that expose the private areas of individuals, show such individuals in full or partial nudity or in sexual activity or is in the nature of impersonation including morphed images etc.
Such a complaint can be filed either by the individual or by any other person on his/her behalf.
5. Additional Due Diligence for the Significant Social Media Intermediaries:
Appointments: Need to appoint Chief Compliance Officer, a Nodal Contact Person and a Resident Grievance Officer, all of whom should be residents in India.
Compliance Report: Need to publish a monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints as well as details of contents removed proactively.
6. Enabling Identity of the Originator:
Significant social media intermediaries providing services primarily in the nature of messaging shall enable the identification of the first originator of the information.
Required only for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, or public order,
Or incitement to an offence relating to the above or in relation to rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than five years.
7. Removal of Unlawful Information:
An intermediary upon receiving actual knowledge in the form of an order by a court or being notified by the Appropriate Govt. or its agencies through an authorized officer should not host or publish any information which is prohibited under any law in relation to the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, friendly relations with foreign countries etc.
Rules for News Publishers and OTT Platforms and Digital Media:
Self-Classification of Content: The OTT platforms, called the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
Parental Lock: Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher, and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
Display Rating: Shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor informing the user about the nature of the content, and advising on viewer description (if applicable) at the beginning of every programme enabling the user to make an informed decision, prior to watching the programme.
For Publishers of News on Digital Media :
They would be required to observe the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act 1995 thereby providing a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.
Grievance Redressal Mechanism:
A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established under the rules with different levels of self-regulation.
Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers;
Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers;
Level-III: Oversight mechanism.
Self-regulation by the Publisher:
Publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it.
The officer shall take a decision on every grievance received by it within 15 days.
There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers.
Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the SC, a High Court or an independent eminent person and have not more than six members.
Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate an oversight mechanism.
It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices. It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances.
What is the news?
Google removed 59,350 pieces of content from its social media platforms in April last, following over 27,700 complaints received from individual users in India, according to the company’s maiden monthly transparency report.
The report follows the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 which came into force on May 26.
The rules require social media platforms with more than 50 lakh users in India to publish compliance reports every month mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken.
The platforms also need to mention the number of specific communication links or parts of information they have removed or disabled access to, following proactive monitoring conducted by using automated tools.
In an emailed statement, a Google spokesperson said the company has a long history of providing transparency into the different types of requests it receives from around the world, and how it responds.
All of these requests are tracked and included in the company’s existing Transparency Report since 2010.
As per the report, the company received a total of 27,762 complaints from individual users located in India via designated mechanisms and related to third-party content that is believed to violate local laws or personal rights on Google's significant social media intermediary (SSMI) platforms, including YouTube. This data also includes individual user complaints accompanied by a court order.
About 96% of the complaints received were related to issues of copyright, followed by trademark (1.3%), defamation (1%), legal (1%), counterfeit (0.4%) and circumvention (0.1%).
India took issue with the European Union’s plans to institute a “green pass” from July 1, with government sources warning that India will introduce a “reciprocal policy” only allowing ease of travel for those European countries that recognise Indian vaccines Covishield and Covaxin.
The African Union had also issued a letter of protest over the EU proposal saying that it promoted “inequality” for those from India and “lower-income” countries for whom the Covishield vaccine was the “backbone” of the international COVAX alliance programme.
Those vaccinated with Covishield, the version of the AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in India by SII, are not eligible for the EU Digital Covid certificate or “green pass”.
It is an immunity document to ease travel within and to the 27-member bloc. It will be in place by July 1.
Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca’s Vaxzervria and Janssen by Johnson & Johnson are the only four Covid-19 vaccines approved by EMA, which have received EU-wide marketing authorisation.
Covishield is also a version of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and is being manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
What is the EU Digital Covid Certificate?
An EU Digital Covid Certificate is digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against Covid-19, received a negative test result or recovered from Covid-19.
The certificate is both in digital and paper format, comes with a QR code is free of charge, is in the national language and English is safe and secure and valid in all EU countries.
How can one get the certificate?
National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate, for example, it could be issued by test centres or health authorities or directly via an eHealth portal.
The digital version can be stored on a mobile device and at the same people can also request a paper version.
Both versions will have a QR code with essential information and a digital signature to make sure the certificate is authentic.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate holder should in principle be exempted from free movement restrictions when travelling and member states should refrain from imposing additional travel restrictions on them.
Can unvaccinated people travel to another EU country?
Yes. The EU Digital Covid Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate will also prove the results of testing, which is often required under applicable public health restrictions. The certificate is an opportunity for member states to adjust the existing restrictions on public health grounds.
The currently applicable recommendation on coordinating free movement restrictions in the EU will also be amended by mid-June with a view to the holiday season.
In a move to give a major push to tech startups across the country, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog concluded its first fintech cohort of AIM-iLEAP- an initiative to back tech start-ups with much-needed access to industry, markets and investors.
The fintech cohort was done through a series of thematic virtual demo days organised AIM in partnership with Startup Réseau and Visa as part of AIM-iLEAP (Innovative leadership for entrepreneurial agility and profitability) initiative.
The objective of the AIM-iLEAP program is to invite technology start-ups across a broad range of functions and have them present their solutions to the corporate leadership and innovation team for enabling market access and industry partnerships.
On the other hand, individual and institutional investors participating in this program shall consider investing in the curated set of AIM supported start-ups.
Working as an apex body for innovation and entrepreneurship in the country, AIM has access to over 2000+ tech start-ups pan-India through its member base of 65+ business incubators, 24 ACICs, 15 ARISE-ANIC and over 7200+ATLs.
About Atal Innovation Mission
The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country.
AlM's objectives are to create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country at school, university, research institutions, MSME and industry levels.
The Atal Innovation Mission has following two core functions:
Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs.
Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.
Atal Tinkering Labs
To promote creative, innovative mind set in schools. At the school level, AIM is setting up state of the art Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) in schools across all districts across the country.
These ATLs are dedicated innovation workspaces of 1200-1500 square feet where do-it-yourself (DIY) kits on latest technologies like 3D Printers, Robotics, Internet of Things (IOT), Miniaturized electronics are installed using a grant of Rs 20 Lakhs from the government so that students from Grade VI to Grade XII can tinker with these technologies and learn to create innovative solutions using these technologies.
This will enable create a problem solving, innovative mind set within millions of students across the country.
More than just grants, the ATL program is undertaking on-the-ground activities to engage students and teachers in identifying problems in and around their communities and creating innovative solutions leveraging the ATL technologies to achieve the objectives of the program.
Every school would have an ATL In charge appointed by the school as well as Mentors associated to mentor the ATL students.
All ATL in charges to date have received training through AIM and its partners. AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) is also partnering with AIM to ensure that the closest universities to a school can also mentor ATL students.
Atal Innovation Tinkering challenges are regularly held in the school as well as by AIM every month to ensure students active involvement in creating innovative solutions to solve problems in their community and in the country.
The vision is to have every school have access to at least one or more Atal Tinkering Labs in each district of the country, as well as to scale the same up with the help of state education ministries across the length and breadth of the country.
Also Government / Govt Aided schools, and Girls schools, North East and Hilly District schools get a special preference in the consideration of ATL selections.
Promoting entrepreneurship in universities and industry. At the university, NGO, SME and Corporate industry levels, AIM is setting up world-class Atal Incubators (AICs) that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups in every sector /state of the country, thereby promoting entrepreneurs and job creators in the country addressing both commercial and social entrepreneurship opportunities in India and applicable globally.
AIM is also providing scale up support to existing incubators for scaling up their operations. AIM is providing a grant of upto Rs 10 crores to successful applicants for setting up greenfield incubators or scaling up existing ones. The idea is that every one of the 110 named smart cities and the top 5-10 educational / industrial institutions of every state should aspire to have a world class incubator that will provide the youth / startup communities in the universities / industries opportunity to create new start ups. Women led incubators and entrepreneurial startups are strongly encouraged by AIM.
Again here, the longer term approach would be to scale up with the help of other ministries / states / sectors / public sector organizations as this would be crucial to create thousands of job creators in India.
Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges
To promote technology driven innovations and product creation for social and commercial impact.
Atal New India Challenges / Atal Grand Challenges are being launched in specific areas and sectors of national importance - such as Renewable Energies, Energy Storage, Climate-smart precision agriculture, Universal drinking water, Swaach Bharat, Transportation, Education, Healthcare using Robotic, IOT technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Block-chain, Augmented and Virtual reality, Battery Technologies etc.
The successful applicants will get a grant of upto Rs 1 crore for Atal New India Challenges and larger grants of upto Rs 30 crores for Atal Grand Challenges. AIM is also partnering with corporates and other institutions to launch such challenges to stimulate new product and service development in various sectors.
Industry, Academia, Government, Global Collaborations
To enable a vibrant ecosystem of innovation, AIM is promoting active collaboration between Government, Academia, Industry, Individuals and Societal focused NGOs.
AIM has set up one of the largest Mentoring networks in India called Mentor India from the professional and industry community who can help mentor students at Atal Tinkering Labs and AIC Incubators / startups.
Qualified mentors will be assigned to various AICs. A number of industry leaders and corporate organizations have volunteered to adopt ATLs/AICs in their vicinities to ensure close mentoring and success of these initiatives. AIM is also actively working on establishing collaborations with innovation systems and entities in other countries in APAC, Europe, UK, USA, Africa and Latin American Countries.
AIM-iCREST is an Incubator Capabilities Enhancement program for a Robust Ecosystem
AIM-iCREST is an Incubator Capabilities Enhancement program for a Robust Ecosystem focused on creating high performing Startups.
It has been designed to act as a growth support for AIM’s Atal and Established Incubators across the country.
For the same, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wadhwani Foundation - organizations that can lend credible support and expertise in the entrepreneurship and innovation space.
The AIM’s incubators are set to be upscaled and provided requisite support to foster the incubation enterprise economy, that will help them to significantly enhance their performance.
This will be complemented by providing training to entrepreneurs, through technology driven processes and platforms.
The focus will be on supporting start-up entrepreneurs in knowledge creation and dissemination as well as in developing robust and active networks.
AIM’s Atal and Established Incubators:
Business incubators are institutions that support entrepreneurs in developing their businesses, especially in initial stages.
Incubation is usually done by institutions which have experience in the business and technology world.
Atal Incubation Centres:
AIM intends to support the establishment of new incubation centres called Atal Incubation Centres (AICs) that would nurture innovative start-ups in their pursuit to become scalable and sustainable business enterprises.
Established Incubation Centres:
In recent years, academia, industry, investors, small and big entrepreneurs, government organizations, and non-governmental organizations have taken an initiative to set up incubation centres across the country.
AIM envisages to upgrade these Established Incubation Centres (EICs) to world-class standards.
Atal Innovation Mission – PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship)
In a major push towards deep technology and driving the country to become a digitally transformed nation, Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog today launched AIM-PRIME (Program for Researchers on Innovations, Market-Readiness & Entrepreneurship), an initiative to promote and support science-based deep-tech startups & ventures across India.
In this regard, AIM has joined hands with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to launch this nationwide programwhich will be implemented by Venture Center - a non-profit technology business incubator.
The first cohort of the program is open to technology developers (early-stage deep tech start-ups, and scientists/ engineers/ clinicians) with strong science-based deep tech business ideas.
The program is also open to CEOs and Senior incubation managers of AIM Funded Atal Incubation Centers that are supporting deep tech entrepreneurs.
Deep technology is an outcome of very intense research and development (R&D) with high knowledge content.
Consequently, the entrepreneurial journey emphasizes different aspects and requires a different approach to navigating the de-risking process and bringing such ideas to market.
Benefits of AIM- PRIME
The benefits of this program are aimed at addressing specific issues through training and guidance over a period of 12 months.
Candidates selected for the program will get access to in-depth learning via a comprehensive lecture series, live team projects, exercises, and project-specific mentoring.
They will also have access to a deep tech startup playbook, curated video library, and plenty of peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
The AIM-PRIME program is specifically tailored for the rapid scaling up of deep-tech science ventures in India, providing not just the necessary intellect and support but also the exposure they rightly deserve.
Cabinet accorded approval for revised implementation strategy of BharatNet through Public Private Partnership mode in 16 States of the country.
BharatNet will now extend upto all inhabited villages beyond Gram Panchayats (GPs), in the said States.
The revised strategy also includes creation, upgradation, operation, maintenance and utilization of BharatNet by the concessionaire who will be selected by a competitive international bidding process.
The estimated maximum viability gap funding approved for the above PPP model is Rs. 19,041 crores.
The States covered under the Cabinet approval today are Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
An estimated 3.61 lakh villages including GPs will be covered.
The Cabinet also accorded in principle approval for extending BharatNet to cover all inhabited villages in the remaining States and UTs. Department of Telecommunication will separately workout the modalities for these (remaining) States/UTs.
PPP model of BharatNet
The PPP Model will leverage Private Sector efficiency for operation, maintenance, utilization and revenue generation and is expected to result in faster roll out of BharatNet.
The selected concessionaire (Private Sector Partner) is expected to provide reliable, high speed broadband services as per pre-defined Services Level Agreement (SLA).
Extension of reach of BharatNet to all inhabited villages with reliable, quality, high speed broadband will enable better access of e-services offered by various Central and State Government agencies.
It will also enable online education, telemedicine, skill development, e-commerce and other applications of broadband. It is expected that revenue will be generated from different sources including proliferation of broadband connections to individuals & institutions, sale of dark fibre, Fiberization of mobile towers, e-commerce etc.
Proliferation of broadband in rural areas will bridge the rural-urban divide of digital access and accelerate the achievement of Digital India.
The penetration and proliferation of broadband is also expected to increase direct and indirect employment and income generation. The States where PPP Model is envisaged, will facilitate free Right of Way.
BharatNet PPP Model will bring in following consumer friendly advantages:
Use of innovative technology by the Private Sector Provider for the consumers;
High quality of service and Service Level to consumers;
Faster deployment of network and quick connectivity to consumers;
Competitive tariffs for services;
Variety of services on high-speed broadband including Over the top (OTT) services and multi-media services as part of packages offered to consumers, and
Access to all online services.
PPP Model in this critical infrastructure of Telecom is a novel initiative. The Private Sector Partner is also expected to bring an equity investment and raise resources towards capital expenditure and for operation and maintenance of the network.
Hence, the PPP Model for BharatNet will enhance efficiency, quality of service, consumer experience and leverage private sector expertise, entrepreneurship and capacities for accelerating achievement of digital India.
This will be in addition to substantial savings of public money.
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