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SOP for IT Rules by this week: Clarity on powers, jurisdiction of agencies likely

The need for SOPs for the intermediary guidelines was felt again following the controversy on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s post on social media platforms, where he had posted a photo of the parents of a nine-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly raped.

Written by Aashish Aryan | New Delhi |
October 27, 2021 3:15:25 am
Earlier this year, social media intermediaries had met officials from MeitY to apprise them of the problems they had been facing due to the lack of SOPs for the new IT Rules. (File)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is likely to, by the end of this week, come out with a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP) for the proper implementation of Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, senior government officials said.

The SOP may spell out the jurisdiction of various agencies, whether they have the power to issue a legal takedown notice to a social media intermediary and other aspects, such as the criminal or civil liabilities for certain executives such as the nodal contact officer, the officials said.

Earlier this year, social media intermediaries had met officials from MeitY to apprise them of the problems they had been facing due to the lack of SOPs for the new IT Rules. The need for SOPs for the intermediary guidelines was felt again following the controversy on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s post on social media platforms, where he had posted a photo of the parents of a nine-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly raped.

The photo stoked controversy, and was subsequently taken down by Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but not before National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) sent notices to the platforms as well as Gandhi.

Though all three platforms removed Gandhi’s post, they claimed it was done based on their internal guidelines on posting and not the notices sent by the NCPCR.

An executive at a social media company had then told The Indian Express that as per the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shreya Singhal case, where Section 66A of the IT Act had been struck down, the direction to remove any content from social media can only be if there is a court order, or if a competent authority of the Central government issues such order under Section 69A of the IT Act, adding that neither Section 69A nor the blocking rules under IT Act authorised NCPCR to direct intermediaries to remove content.

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