A fine balance in digital age


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Regulating social media companies

The Digital Media Code seeks to balance the priorities and interests of several stakeholders. The article explains the various aspects of the code.

Guidelines and ethics code

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India (MeitY) has announced the proposed Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code. 
  • The guidelines will cover social networks, digital media companies, and OTT platforms.
  • The guidelines will also make the nation’s sovereign stance clear on matters of ethics and the protection of freedom of expression of creators, publishers, and digital platform companies.
  • The guidelines and ethics code seek to balance the questions of accountability and grievance redressal that are posed by the citizens of the country.

Balancing many priorities

  • The ministry’s announcement reveals an approach that is aligned with the thinking of today without imposing unreasonable boundaries on the innovation and expression.
  • The guidelines are designed to carefully balance the many priorities and contexts of all stakeholders.
  • With this move, India continues to deepen its position as a leader in digital policy and technological innovation.
  • These guidelines have been intentionally designed so that India’s next-gen digital media innovators can propel the acceleration of value generation and inclusive empowerment of their local users.
  • Global companies that have large user bases in the country can also align with a common framework that protects creators and consumers alike.

Grievance redressal mechanism

  • The proposal has mechanisms that empower every social and digital media intermediary to self-enforce effective mechanisms to address complaints from users.
  • With a special focus on protecting the online safety and dignity of users, especially women, the guidelines have prioritised affirmative addressal of the most serious issues that have affected India’s digital population.
  • The digital platform companies are empowered to report the first originator of the grievance-causing information.
  • This will ensure that liability is limited while the country’s laws can be fully and effectively enforced on the actual perpetrators.

Addressing the arbitrary censorship

  • Guidelines provide users with an opportunity to be heard — a vital defence against the arbitrary censorship that several social media platforms are increasingly embracing globally.
  • The need of the hour is for every country to have a body of clearly-defined policy that is consistent with the principles of their democracies.
  • The country’s guidelines will ensure that unlawful information has clear boundary conditions, liability is defined, the process for enforcement of orders is transparent.
  • The guidelines will also ensure that all social and digital media companies can rely on a consistent definition of the ethics code that protects all participants in the digital ecosystem.


This light-touch, empowering, and inclusive regulatory architecture is exactly what the country was hoping for, and India’s citizens will applaud this move as a foundational pillar towards an Atmanirbhar India.

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