Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that any content violating the dignity of women has to be put down by a social media intermediary within 24 hours.
He said the new guidelines clearly specify that if the "dignity of women is sought to be compromised, namely her nude or morphed photograph is displayed, the social media intermediary needs to remove it within 24 hours."
As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, under the IT Act, the intermediary shall "within twenty-four hours from the receipt of a complaint made by an individual or any person on his behalf under this sub-rule, in relation to any content which is prima facie in the nature of any material which exposes the private area of such individual, shows such individual in full or partial nudity or shows or depicts such individual in any sexual act or conduct, or is in the nature of impersonation in an electronic form, including artificially morphed images of such individual, take all reasonable and practicable measures to remove or disable access to such content which is hosted, stored, published or transmitted by it."
Prasad added that as regards the content gradation, the government will not intervene. He further noted that the Centre welcomes dissension on social media.
"The issue is not the use of social media, it is the abuse of social media," Prasad said, adding that "any attempt to create imperialism of the internet by a few companies is not acceptable."
Although the new guidelines have been commended by industry body IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India), critics say that may entail over-regulation of content.
Meanwhile, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter are yet to officially comment on the new norms. The new guidelines encompass social media intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, besides covering digital news publications as well as over the top video streaming platforms such as Hotstar and Netflix.