MeitY’s New Advisory: Intermediaries Must Comply with IT Rules Now!



MeitY Advisory on Compliance with IT Rules

MeitY Issues Advisory to Intermediaries for Compliance with IT Rules

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has issued an advisory to all intermediaries, ensuring compliance with the existing IT rules. The directive specifically targets the growing concerns around misinformation powered by AI – Deepfakes. The advisory mandates that intermediaries communicate prohibited content, particularly those specified under Rule 3(1)(b) of the IT Rules, clearly and precisely to users.

This advisory is the culmination of the discussions held by the Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Electronics & IT, and Jal Shakti, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar during Digital India dialogue with intermediaries within one month. The advisory stated that “The content not permitted under the IT Rules, in particular those listed under Rule 3(1)(b) must be clearly communicated to the users in clear and precise language including through its terms of service and user agreements and the same must be expressly informed to the user at the time of first-registration and also as regular reminders, in particular, at every instance of login and while uploading/sharing information onto the platform.”

The advisory emphasizes that digital intermediaries must ensure users are informed about penal provisions, including those in the IPC and the IT Act 2000, in case of Rule 3(1)(b) violations. “The users must be made aware of the various penal provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860, the IT Act, 2000, and such other laws that may be attracted in case of violation of Rule 3(1)(b). In addition, the terms of service and user agreements must highlight that intermediaries/platforms are under obligation to report legal violations to the law enforcement agencies under the relevant Indian laws applicable to the context,” the advisory further added.

Rule 3(1)(b) within the due diligence section of the IT rules mandates intermediaries to communicate their rules, regulations, privacy policy, and user agreement in the user’s preferred language. They are also obliged to ensure reasonable efforts to prevent users from hosting, displaying, uploading, modifying, publishing, transmitting, storing, updating, or sharing any information related to the 11 listed user harms or content prohibited on digital intermediaries.

This rule aims to ensure platforms identify and promptly remove misinformation, false or misleading content, and material impersonating others, including deepfakes. For one month, Union Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Electronics & IT, and Jal Shakti, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, convened pivotal stakeholder meetings with industry leaders to address the pressing issue of deepfakes.

During the meeting, he highlighted the urgency for all platforms and intermediaries to strictly adhere to the current laws and regulations, emphasising that the IT rules comprehensively address the menace of deepfakes. Minister Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar stated, “Misinformation represents a deep threat to the safety and trust of users on the Internet. Deepfake which is misinformation powered by AI, further amplifies the threat to the safety and trust of our Digital Nagriks. On 17th November, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi alerted the country to the dangers of deepfakes, and post that, the Ministry had two Digital India Dialogues with all the stakeholders of the Indian Internet to alert them about the provisions of the IT Rules notified in October 2022, and amended in April 2023 that lays out 11 specific prohibited types of content on all social media intermediaries & platforms.”

The Minister further emphasized that Rule 3(1)(b)(v) explicitly prohibits the dissemination of misinformation. Consequently, all intermediaries were asked to exercise due diligence in promptly removing such content from their platforms. He also emphasized that platforms have been duly informed about the legal consequences associated with any violations under the IT rules. “Rule 3(1)(b)(v)…