The Union Government has recently notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, related to online gaming and spread of false and misleading information regarding government business.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has stated that the aim of these amendments is to enforce greater diligence by online gaming and social media intermediaries.
False or misleading
According to the ministry, false or misleading information will be identified by the notified Fact Check Unit of the Central Government. Existing IT rules already require intermediaries to make reasonable efforts to not host, publish or share any information which is false and untrue or misleading in nature.
The proposed amendments, mainly the setting up of a Fact Check Unit, have been opposed by some political parties and groups. A report recently said that to assuage concerns from critics about the unit’s “lack of expertise”, the Government may appoint a four-member team to it.
This team may comprise a representative from the IT Ministry and one from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, a media expert, and a legal expert. It will be supported by designated nodal officers from other ministries.
Social media and virtual gaming industry were largely unchecked in India until recently. The IT Act was enacted by Parliament in 2000.
Under it, foreign nationals can also be charged for any crime involving a computer or network located in India. Apart from penalties for cybercrimes and fraud, the law gives legal recognition to digital signatures.
The amended rules now make it obligatory on the part of intermediaries to not host, publish or share any online game that can cause the user harm, or that has not been verified by an online gaming self-regulatory body designated by the Centre.
No surrogate ads
The intermediary will also have to ensure that no advertisement or surrogate advertisement or promotion of an online game that is not a permissible online game, is hosted on its platform.
Similarly, it is obligatory on intermediaries to not publish, share or host fake, false or misleading information in respect of any business of the Centre.
The Government has also proposed a Digital India Act to help develop India as a globally competitive innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem while at the same time protecting the rights of its citizens. The Minister of State also held consultations with stakeholders on Digital India in March on the same.