The Centre has given digital media publishers, comprising online news and OTT platforms 15 days' time to provide details on their compliance with the new guidelines on digital media ethics issued in February.
The new rules were announced by the central government to "establish a soft touch progressive institutional mechanism with a level playing field featuring a Code of Ethics and a three-tier grievance redressal framework for news publishers and OTT platforms on the digital media".
The Code of Ethics will be applicable to digital media and online news entities, OTT platforms and digital media.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told India Today TV that the tightening of the guidelines governing streaming companies and social media was being done to check the spread of fake news.
The new rules, which were announced on February 25, require large social media players to follow additional due diligence, including the appointment of a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer.
The rules also require these platforms to remove any content flagged by authorities within 36 hours, and take down posts depicting nudity or morphed photos within 24 hours of receiving a complaint.
The new guidelines mandate setting up a robust complaint redressal mechanism with an officer being based in the country, and significant social media companies will have to publish a monthly compliance report disclosing details of complaints received and action taken, as well as details of contents removed proactively.
They will also be required to have a physical contact address in India published on its website, mobile app, or both. The new rules also require significant social media intermediaries -- providing services primarily in the nature of messaging -- to enable identification of the "first originator" of information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order.
"They will have to have a grievance redressal mechanism, a grievance officer who shall register the grievance within 24 hours and disposal in 15 days," Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
News publishers on digital media are bound to follow the Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.
Although there has been a lot of criticism surrounding the new rules for digital media, Javadekar defended the guidelines, saying people are happy.
"People are happy with the guidelines," Javadekar said while rejecting the charge that the stakeholders were not consulted before issuing the new rules.
Digital rights and free speech activists have critiqued the new rules, saying they encourage censorship and violate the privacy rights of users, including the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, as guaranteed under the constitution.