Updated: Nov 1, 2022
You will remember that India issued a new set of intermediary safe harbour rules in mid-2021. These rules, inter alia, required certain due diligences to be observed by Internet intermediaries in order for them to claim a ‘safe harbor’ protection against liability for content carried on their platforms. In particular, it required additional compliances of significant social media intermediaries and curators of online content. You can read BTG’s updates on these rules here, here (about a set of amendments proposed earlier this year), and here.
Last Friday, the Indian Government released new amendments to the 2021 Rules, notifying the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022 (“2022 Amendment”). The 2022 Amendment has been published in the Official Gazette here, and is already in force. In explanatory comments published here, this 2022 Amendment is intended to “enhance(s) due diligence requirements and ensuring accountability of social media and other intermediaries”.
Here are the key changes notified under the 2022 Amendment:
All Internet intermediaries are now required to make “reasonable efforts” to cause the user not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information that, inter alia, is illegal, obscene, infringes any IP, or is misleading, impersonating, etc.
The 2022 Amendment also clarifies that any complaint for removal of content that is defamatory, illegal, etc., shall hall be acted upon as expeditiously as possible, and resolved within seventy-two (72) hours of such reporting.
The 2022 Amendment also requires intermediaries to respect the rights guaranteed to users under the Indian Constitution, including a reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy, and transparency.
Finally, a Government appointed ‘Grievance Appellate Committee’ (“GAC”) will be established to allow users to appeal against decisions or lack of action taken by intermediaries on user complaints. GAC(s) will be established within 3 months of the notification of the 2022 Amendment (i.e., latest by end January 2023).
We are continuing to review and parse the impact of these modified rules, and will keep you posted.