• Vikram Jeet Singh

Fresh Amendments Proposed to Indian Intermediary Safe Harbor Rules

You will remember that India’s online intermediary safe harbor rules were amended in mid-2021, pursuant to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (“2021 IT Rules”). These rules required additional compliances of online intermediaries, and placed substantial compliance burdens on significant social media companies, and publishers of online new and curated content.

The Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“Meity”) on June 6, 2022 proposed further amendments to the 2021 IT Rules. A draft of these amendments has been placed online here, for public consultations for 30 days (“2022 Amendments”).

Here is a snapshot of the major changes proposed:

  1. Online intermediaries are now required to ‘ensure compliance with’ the rules and regulations, privacy policy, etc., published by them, and have a proactive duty to ‘cause the user’ not to display any illegal content.

  2. All intermediaries will be required to dispose of user requests for removal of content within 72 hours of receipt.

  3. The Indian Government will constitute a Grievance Appellate Committee, where users can appeal against decisions of an intermediary’s (internal) Grievance Officer.

The thrust of these new 2022 Amendments seems to be to add additional compliances for significant social media intermediaries (“SSMIs”) and ‘big-tech platforms’. They also aim to provide users the recourse to approach a Government appointed committee for grievance redressal, instead of approaching Indian courts.