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The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021


Government of India notified the establishment of the IT Rules 2021

In February 2021, the Government of India notified the establishment of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. Making use of the power vested under Section 87 of the Information Technology Act, of 2000, the Central Government proposed the final draft of the said Rules. The rules shall succeed the IT (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules of 2011 and 2016. The draft was initially suggested by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). Later around June 2022, the updated and approved draft amendments made to the existing rules were revealed to the society at large for scrutiny.  The proposed framework aims to be progressive, liberal, and contemporary.

The Rules were introduced the said rules based on three points of focus

  • Formation of Grievance Appellate Tribunals along with the redressal methods and timelines.
  • Obligations and accountability of Intermediaries
  • The obligation of Significant Social Medium Intermediaries

At the moment, intermediaries are only required to warn users about the dangers of uploading specific types of harmful or illegal information. As a result of these amendments, intermediaries are now required by law to make reasonable attempts to stop users from submitting such content. The new clause will make sure that the intermediary's responsibility is more than just a formality. They are as follows-

  • An intermediary must on time publish all information relating to privacy, the regulations and rules, and an agreement of the user in English language or any other relevant language following the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution on their website/mobile-based application.
  • The rules make it mandatory for the intermediary to inform about their privacy policies, rules, and regulations the user of the system about and shall further ensure that the user must not use the system to upload, modify, publish, transmit, or store information that 
  1. Belongs to someone else
  2. Contains something obscene, embedded with any amount of pornographic content, is paedophilic, aims to invade another user’s privacy, intends to harass or insult any gender in any way, involves money laundering, or encourages any enmity between any group of people, or induce violence.
  3. In any way is harmful to a minor.
  4. Causes to infringe any Intellectual Property Rights.
  5. Knowingly transmits any disinformation or information that is incorrect, inaccurate, deceptive, or deceives the addressee about the message's origin.
  6. Pretends to be someone else
  7. Causes threaten the integrity or sovereignty of India and do not lead to cause any enmity between any nation.
  8. Induces software that is likely to transmit a virus in the computer or to any other computer. 
  9. Contravenes the provision of any law.

The essential element of the abovementioned provisions was the Government intended to protect the Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India. The rules and regulations of the intermediary must be communicated effectively in regional Indian languages as well. Further, the terms "defamatory" and "libellous" have been eliminated from the grounds in rule 3(1) (b) (ii). A judicial review will decide if any content is defamatory, it does not have to necessarily be one. 

Grievance Appellate Tribunal

A Grievance Appellate Tribunal, as per the provisions of the Rules states the establishment of the tribunal as a Grievance Appellate Committee laid down under rule 3A of the said rules. As per the notification of the Central Government, it shall set up one or more Grievance Appellate Committees within three months after the said rules come into force. The notification also lays down the composition of the Committee. The Committee shall consist of a chairperson and on the appointment of the Central Government, two full-time members out of which one is a member ex-officio which means a ‘by virtue of the office’. If the grievance officer passes any such decision that is not accepted can appeal to the Grievance Appellate Committee within 30 days from the day the Grievance Officer issued their notice. Within the next 30 days of the appeal, the Committee shall effectively respond and resolve the appeal.

The Grievance Committee may further take the assistance of anyone whom it feels has the relevant expertise in the subject matter. It is also required for the Committee to establish an online redressal mechanism and a smooth process to file applications online. Lastly, any decision passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be adhered to by the intermediary, and must also upload a report on their website regarding the same. Safe Harbour provisions won't apply to the intermediary if they don't exercise due diligence as per the Safe Harbour Provisions which have been outlined under Section 79 of the IT Act. As per the provisions of the section, social media intermediaries are shielded from legal action for any content uploaded on their platforms and are thus protected.

Mechanism for Redressing Grievances

According to the regulations, a three-level grievance redressal structure of self-regulation has been formed-

  • Level I: Self-regulation by the publishers; 
  • Level II: Self-regulation by the bodies that the publishers have established for their own self-regulation; 
  • Level III: Mechanism for oversight.

The rational justification of the Rules was stated by the Government. Placing reliance on the Supreme Court Case of Prajwala vs. Union of India of 2018, where the Government ensured to remove of child pornography, rape, and gang rape images, videos, and websites from content hosting platforms and other apps, the Government of India stated that it may create appropriate Guidelines and apply them within two weeks. The majority of the people in India have access to the internet and electronic devices and maximum Indians are now technologically sound. Hence to promote the “Digital India” program, the rules are framed but as the policy enabled and encouraged the use of the internet, the technology is also misused and has caused disturbing developments.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not corpseed, and have not been evaluated by corpseed for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.


A Post Graduate in the field of Corporate and Commercial Laws. I  have worked as a freelance content writer for several Legal topics for over 5 years. I aspire to learn and grow in this field along with being able to portray my Legal skill...

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