Govt panels in 3 months to hear Twitter, other platform users' complaints

Updated on Oct 28, 2022 10:24 PM IST

Under the amended rules, which will come into effect from October 28, a government panel will be formed to hear complaints from users about content moderation decisions of social media platforms.

The government has had strained ties with many tech giants, and the Centre has been tightening regulation of firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
The government has had strained ties with many tech giants, and the Centre has been tightening regulation of firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
By, New Delhi

The Centre on Friday tweaked Information Technology or IT Rules to pave way for setting up of grievance appellate panels, which will settle issues that users may have against the way social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram initially addressed their complaints regarding content and other matters.

The government has had strained ties with many tech giants, and the Centre has been tightening regulation of firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

"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," the notification said.

Each grievance appellate committee will consist of a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the central government, of which one will be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members.

"Any person aggrieved by a decision of the grievance officer may prefer an appeal to the grievance appellate committee within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of communication from the grievance officer," it said.

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

If the grievance appellate committee, while dealing with the appeal, finds it necessary, it can seek assistance from any person having requisite qualification, experience and expertise in the subject matter.

"The grievance appellate committee shall adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism wherein the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted through digital mode," it said.

Incidentally, the latest move comes at a time when the CEO of electric car maker Tesla Inc, Elon Musk, has completed his USD 44-billion takeover of Twitter, placing the world's richest man at the helm of one of most influential social media apps in the world.

"Our rules and laws for intermediaries remain the same regardless of who owns the platforms," said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for electronics and information technology. "So, the expectation of compliance with Indian laws and rules remains."

The social media firms are already required to have an in-house grievance redress officer and designate executives to co-ordinate with law enforcement officials.

Under the amended rules:

Under the amended rules, which will come into effect from October 28, a government panel will be formed to hear complaints from users about content moderation decisions of social media platforms.

The amended rules make it mandatory for all social media platforms to comply with India's sovereign laws.

Now, 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 an information takedown request.

In June, the government had issued draft changes to the IT law that would require companies to "respect the rights accorded to the citizens under the constitution of India" and proposed setting up a government panel.

The Narendra Modi government is concerned that users upset with decisions to have their content taken down do not have a proper system to appeal against those decisions and that their only legal recourse is to go to court.

"A number of (technology) Intermediaries have acted in violation of constitutional rights of Indian citizens," the government had said in June, without naming any company or specific rights.

The government panel will comprise a chairperson and two full-time members, of which two will be independent members.

(With inputs from PTI, Reuters)

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