Recently, the Government of India notified the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 in the wake of growing concern around transparency, accountability and rights of users related to digital media. The rules aim to regulate social media, digital media, and OTT (Over The Top) platforms. The Rules provide broad powers to the government to regulate and monitor social media intermediaries including online news media. The Rules have been framed in exercise of powers under section 87 (2) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and in supersession of the earlier Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011. The Rules are considered to be an instrument of a “soft-touch” oversight mechanism. The Part-II of these Rules shall be administered by the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology and Part-III will be administered by the Ministry of Information and broadcasting.
Media is recognized as the fourth pillar of Democracy after Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. Therefore, to ensure democracy, there is a need for free and independent media. However, these days the role of media is often criticized, especially in reporting criminal matters. The media sometimes go beyond its domain and starts interfering with the functions of the court. Often the media have gone a step further and published information based on mere assumptions and suspicion about the line of investigation by the official agencies to vigorously report on the issue on a day to day basis and comment on the evidence without ascertaining the factual matrix. Such reporting has brought an undue pressure in the course of fair investigation and trial.