New IT guidelines: SC stops sharing video convention hyperlinks with WhatsApp teams

Today News Online Service

New Delhi, February 27

Days after the Centre announced the tightening of rules governing social media and streaming companies, the Supreme Court on Saturday decided to stop sharing video conference links for court hearings with WhatsApp groups.

“It is notified for the information of the Advocates-on-Record/Party-in-Persons that the creation of Groups in WhatsApp for sharing of VC links for hearing of their matters is restricted/barred due to new guidelines or regulations issued by Government of India pertaining to Social media Apps and OTT Platforms,” the top court announced on its website.

It said with effect from March 1, Video Conference links shall be shared through registered email IDs as well as by SMS on registered mobile numbers of the advocates-on-record/party-in-persons.

The court has partially modified its July 4, 2020 Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for advocate/party-in-person for e-filing, mentioning, listing and video conferencing hearing.

The decision has been taken in view of the newly notified Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) notified on Thursday to regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, OTT platforms and social media intermediaries.

The ‘Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code’ are designed to curb misuse of social media platforms, requires WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and other social media firms, as well as streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video, to appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement, disclose the first originator of the mischievous information and remove, within 24 hours, content depicting nudity or morphed pictures of women.

Any contentious content flagged by the government or legal order has to be taken down quickly. The guidelines require social media intermediaries to appoint a resident grievance officer, who shall register complaints in 24 hours, and file monthly compliance reports. User grievances have to be resolved within 15 days.

Social media platforms, on being asked by court or government, will be required to disclose the first originator of the mischievous information that undermines the sovereignty of India, security of the state, or public order. The intermediary, however, will not be required to disclose the contents of any message.

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