Centre releases amended IT rules for social media

The government has taken a view that users' concerns about content on social media platforms need to be addressed by a grievance appellate body
Last Updated : 28 October 2022, 17:24 IST

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The Centre on Friday said centrally appointed appellate panels would be set up in three months to resolve social media users' grievances.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notified the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022, which will pave the way for setting up of grievance appellate panels.

“The central government shall, by notification, establish one or more Grievance Appellate Committees within three months from the date of commencement of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022,” stated the gazette notification.

Each Grievance Appellate Committee will comprise a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the central government.

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The committees will have the power to pass directions to social media companies like Twitter or Facebook to remove content. “The committee to decide complaints against intermediaries including Twitter or Facebook for displaying obscene, pornographic content besides the content that threatens unity and integrity of India,” said an official in the Ministry.

According to the notified rules, any user aggrieved by a decision of an intermediary's own grievance officer can appeal to the government-appointed Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) within a period of 30 days.

The GACs shall try to resolve the issue within 30 days and may also seek assistance from experts. The panels will adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism so that the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision thereof, is conducted digitally.

The grievance appellate panel will deal with such appeal "expeditiously" and make an endeavour to resolve the appeal finally within 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of the appeal.

Though the social media platforms initially said they will have an internal mechanism to address complaints regarding content and other matters, the Ministry decided to go ahead with its plan to set up a government-appointed body.

The reason for setting up the committees is to give social media users a chance to settle the complaints at the earliest instead of approaching the courts.

The latest move will arm the users with a grievance appeal mechanism in the form of appellate committees that will look into complaints filed by individuals against decisions of grievance officers of social media platforms, said the government.

At present, the social media firms must have an in-house grievance redressal officer and designate executives to co-ordinate with law enforcement officials. Under the amended rules, the companies would be required to acknowledge complaints from users within 24 hours and resolve them within 15 days or 72 hours in case of a information takedown request.

Published 28 October 2022, 15:20 IST

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