Information Technology guidelines

IT Guidelines – Digital Media & Intermediaries: Provisions for Parents to Keep in Mind

Under Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, based on the nature and type of content, following rating categories have been created: ‘U’, ‘U/A 7+’, ‘U/A 13+’, ‘U/A 16+’and ‘A’.

Classification decisions may take into account the theme of any content, but will depend significantly on the treatment of that theme, especially the sensitivity of its presentation. The most challenging themes (for example, drug misuse, violence, paedophilia, sex, racial or communal hatred or violence etc.) are unlikely to be appropriate at the junior levels of classification. Here are more details:

UUniversal• Appropriate for all ages.
• Parents may allow children to watch such a program
• Includes little or no realistic violence, no sex or nudity, only mild language, no psychotropic, illegal or harmful substance use.
U/AGeneral ViewingSome scenes may be unsuitable for young children (Parents may want to check before allowing children to watch)
U/A 7+Suitable for 7 years and above• Parental discretion suggested before allowing children to watch
• No explicit images of sex or nudity and any sexual content is limited to affectionate encounters
• Crude humour but no harsh language
• No depictions of illegal drug use or references
U/A 13+Suitable for 13 years and over• Violence may be more realistic and/or graphic, but not too gory
• Acts of self-harm may be implied, but not depicted in great detail
• Implied nudity or sexual activity, but not graphic; sexual references and innuendo is acceptable
• No strong coarse expletives
• Parents should take caution and learn more before allowing their older children to watch
U/A 16+Suitable for 16 years and over• Violence (graphic acts, including self- harm, sexual violence) but should not be prolonged or excessive)
• Crude and frequent language
• Drug use (but not to be glamorized or promoted).
• Adult nudity without any sexual context
ASuitable only for 18 years and above • Nudity with a sexual context and strong or mature sex scenes along with nudity.
• Violence (gory, cruel, extremely graphic or disturbing, strong language).
• Abuse of illegal substances.

Other things to be noted:

  1. Sadistic or sexual violence, or other conduct that is demeaning or degrading to human dignity is likely to receive a higher classification.
  2. The classification of threat and horror will take account of the general tone, impact, realism and supernatural elements of a work as well as the level of detail in individual scenes.
  3. Adult nudity without any sexual context may not be portrayed upto U/A 16+ category level.
  4. Nudity with a sexual context will receive a higher classification of A
  5. Portrayal of overly sexualized behavior is a concern at the junior categories and such works will not qualify for upto U/A 16+ category. The classification of content in various categories from U/A to A shall depend upon the portrayal of non-explicit (implicit) to explicit depiction of sexual behavior.
  6. Work containing scenes that may offend human sensibilities on account of vulgarity, obscenity or depravity are likely to receive a higher classification, such as the A category
  7. Category classification of a content will take into account the potentially offensive impact of a film on matters such as caste, race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality that may arise in a wide range of works, and the classification decision will take account of the strength or impact of their inclusion.
  8. Films / serials with song and dance scenes comprising lyrics and gestures that have sexual innuendos would receive a higher classification, particularly where such scenes have no bearing on the context and theme of the film.
  9. Process of classification also has to take into account offensive language including that with sexual connotation and commonly understood as rude gestures.
    The Rules will come in effect from the date of their publication in the gazette, except for the additional due diligence for significant social media intermediaries, which shall come in effect 3 months after publication of these Rules.

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