Govt Wants To Override Decisions Of Social Media Firms Under New IT Laws; Public Consultation In June
According to an official statement said on Monday, 6 June, the government’s proposal to set-up a grievance panel that will have power to override decisions of social media companies and other internet firms is aimed at addressing some infirmities and gaps arising out of big technology companies.
Information Technology Draft Notification
In a press note attached with the reloaded draft notification to amend the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said that it will hold public consultation in mid-June on the proposal.
Moreover, MEitY is also planning to extend the time for public comments on the draft notification to amend the IT Rules, 2021, by 30 days from 6 June onward.
Earlier the draft notice dated 1 June had mentioned 22 June as the last date for public comments.
But then it was removed by Meity on 2 June and has been again uploaded on its website.
Open, Safe, Trusted and Accountable Internet
The IT Rules, 2021 on 25 February, 2021 notified with goals to ensure an open, safe, trusted and accountable Internet for all Indian internet users and “Digital Nagriks”, Meity said .
As part of these rules now significant social media intermediaries – those with over 50 lakh users – are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer.
Also, these personnel have to be residents in India.
It is noteworthy here that the social media companies covered under the rules are also classified as “Big Tech” companies considering their dominance in the segments in which they operate.
According to Meity, the notified rules have succeeded in creating a new sense of accountability amongst Intermediaries to their users especially within Big Tech platforms.
The statement mentions, “However, as the digital ecosystem and connected Internet users in India expand, so do the challenges and problems faced by them, as well as some of the infirmities and gaps that exist in the current rule vis-a-vis Big Tech platform. Therefore, New amendments have been proposed to the IT Rules 2021, to address these challenges and gaps,”.
Grievance Panel For Social Media Companies
In the draft amendment, the Center has proposed to set up a grievance appellate committee to look into appeals filed by individuals against decisions of grievance officers of social media platforms.
So, the panel has to dispose of the appeals within 30 days of receiving them and its decision will be binding on the intermediaries or the large social media companies concerned, as per a notification to amend the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
This new proposal holds significance against the backdrop of instances of accounts, including that of celebrities, being blocked by social media platforms such as Twitter for alleged violation of respective community guidelines.
Further, the aggrieved person can also appeal against the decision of the grievance officer concerned before the committee within 30 days of receipt of the order.
The draft notification said, “The Grievance Appellate Committee shall deal with such appeal expeditiously and shall make an endeavor to dispose of the appeal finally within 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the appeal. Every order passed by the Grievance Appellate Committee shall be complied with by the concerned intermediary,”.