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11-04-2023

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Table of Content



  • GS - 2 Governance:
    • Government Notifies Amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics code) rules, 2021
  • Fact File
  • Recalling the life and times of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs
  • What is the UN Democracy Fund, co-founded by India, which gives money to George Soros-linked bodies



Government Notifies Amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics code) rules, 2021

GS-2: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

 

The Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India, has announced changes to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, with the objective of upholding the safety and trust of Digital Nagriks. The amendments pertain to the dissemination of fake and misleading information about government affairs and online gaming, and they seek to ensure that online gaming and social media intermediaries exercise increased due diligence in these areas.

 

Under the Government of India (Allocation of Business Rules), 1961, the responsibility for overseeing online gaming regulations was assigned to the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on December 23 of last year. Within two weeks of this decision, the Ministry drafted proposed amendments to the IT rules and made them available for consultation on January 2, 2023.

 

Key Features of the amendment

Obligation to ensure safety of online games and prohibition of hosting non-permissible games

  • According to the amended rules, intermediaries are now required to take reasonable steps to avoid hosting, publishing, or sharing any online games that may harm users or have not been approved as permissible online games by a self-regulatory body designated by the Central Government.
  • They must also ensure that no advertising or promotion of non-permissible online games is displayed on their platform.

Authority and obligations of self-regulatory bodies for online gaming

  • The self-regulatory body will have the power to investigate and verify that the online game does not involve betting, that the game and the online gaming intermediary comply with the rules, and that there are safeguards in place to protect users from harm, including psychological harm, parental controls, age ratings, and measures to prevent gaming addiction.

Additional obligations on intermediaries for online games involving real money

  • Additional obligations are imposed on online gaming intermediaries for online games that involve real money, including the display of a verification mark by the self-regulatory body, notification of the withdrawal and refund policy, the KYC details of users, and the prohibition of credit or financing by third parties.
  • These rules will apply to games without a deposit for winnings if the Central Government issues a notification in the users' interest or other specified reasons.

Establishment of self-regulatory bodies and Board for online gaming industry

  • The Government may designate multiple self-regulatory bodies that represent the online gaming industry but operate independently of their members.
  • The Board will consist of directors without conflicts of interest and will represent all relevant stakeholders and experts, including online gaming users, educators, mental health professionals, ICT experts, child rights advocates, and individuals with public policy and administration experience.
  • These obligations will become effective when an adequate number of self-regulatory bodies are designated, giving the online gaming industry sufficient time to comply.

Prohibition of publishing fake, false or misleading information related to government business

  • Social media companies have historically been granted legal immunity for user-generated content, as they are considered intermediaries under the Information Technology Act, 2000. 
  • However, they will lose this status under the IT Rules if they fail to appoint a grievance officer for India or fail to promptly address user complaints.
  • Moreover, with this amendment, they will also lose their safe harbor protection for posts that the government has identified as misinformation.
  • Intermediaries are now required, under the amended rules, to avoid publishing, sharing, or hosting fake, false, or misleading information regarding any Central Government business.
  • These types of information will be identified by the Fact Check Unit of the Central Government.

Obligation to not host or share false or misleading information in general

  • The existing IT rules already required intermediaries to take reasonable steps to avoid hosting, publishing, or sharing information that is patently false, untrue, or misleading.

 

[Ref- PIB] 


Fact File


Recalling the life and times of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs

  • On April 11th, the Sikhs commemorated the Parkash Purab of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, who was their 9th guru.


Guru Tegh Bahadur

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was born in Amritsar in 1621 and became the 9th Guru of the Sikhs in 1664 at the age of 43.
  • He is remembered for his selfless sacrifice to protect the religious freedom of Hindus against forced conversion by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
  • His Parkash Purab is celebrated annually by Sikhs around the world.
  • He received education in Punjabi, Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindi, and was also trained in archery and horsemanship.


Contributions as Guru

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur is known for spreading the message of Sikhism and for promoting the welfare of the people.
  • He founded the city of Anandpur Sahib and also established the city of Kiratpur Sahib.
  • He compiled hymns of the previous Gurus into the Adi Granth, which later became the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs.


Martyrdom

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred in Delhi in 1675 on the orders of Aurangzeb, who demanded that he convert to Islam.
  • The Guru refused to give up his faith and was executed by beheading.
  • His sacrifice is remembered as an example of religious tolerance and freedom.


Legacy

  • Guru Tegh Bahadur's sacrifice inspired the Sikh community to fight against religious persecution.
  • His teachings are still relevant today and emphasize the importance of human rights and equality.
  • He is remembered as a defender of freedom of conscience and a champion of religious diversity.

What is the UN Democracy Fund, co-founded by India, which gives money to George Soros-linked bodies

  • George Soros' Open Society Foundation launched the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) in 2005.
  • It was created by UN Secretary-General Kofi A. Annan in 2005 as a United Nations General Trust Fund.
  • UNDEF was launched on the sidelines of the India-US civil nuclear deal.
  • UNDEF aimed to promote democracy and civil society across the world.


Objectives and Funding

  • UNDEF receives funding from multiple sources, including governments and private individuals.
  • India gave $5 million to the fund in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
  • Its main objective is to support projects that promote democracy and human rights.
  • UNDEF provides funding to civil society organizations, independent media, and youth groups.


Advisory Board

  • The Advisory Board is formed by the Secretary General.
  • It includes eight largest Member State contributors and six other states to reflect diverse geographical representation.
  • One "small island" and developing state is also represented.
  • Two individual members and two CSOs are also included.
  • India has been a member of the Advisory Board since its inception.


Impact and Criticisms

  • UNDEF has funded over 800 projects in more than 140 countries.
  • The fund has been criticized for its lack of transparency in project selection and funding allocation.
  • Some countries, such as Russia and China, have criticized UNDEF for interfering in their internal affairs.

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