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New Delhi gives itself power over social media content moderation | Business and Economy News

New rules allow the Indian government to control content moderation decisions made by social media companies.

The Indian government has announced changes to its information technology rules that will apply to social media companies, a move likely to be seen as a drag on big tech companies.

Under the amended rules, which were announced on Friday, a government panel will be formed to hear user complaints about content moderation decisions by social media platforms. This effectively gives the government control over content moderation decisions made by social media companies.

The Internet Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for digital rights, called the proposed panel “essentially a government social media censorship agency that will make bureaucrats the arbiters of our freedom of expression online.”

One of the concerns raised by the foundation is that the panel’s existence will “prompt platforms to delete/remove/label any speech that is unpalatable to the government or those exerting political pressure.”

The foundation also expressed concern that the government may also be able to force social media platforms to post content that the platforms have deemed to be against their standards.

“Opaque and arbitrary methods of selecting appeals for review, lack of trust in an executive body, the government’s ability to influence content moderation decisions in a non-transparent manner” are just some of the other concerns reported by the foundation. the rules changed.

Tightening rules

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has had strained relations with many big tech companies, and New Delhi has tightened regulation of firms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Tensions over social media content decisions have been a particularly vexing issue in India, with companies often receiving government takedown requests or proactively removing content.

Social media companies are already required to have an internal grievance officer and designate executives to coordinate with law enforcement officials.

Under the amended rules, companies would be required to acknowledge user complaints within 24 hours and resolve them within 15 days or 72 hours of a request for removal of information.

In June, the government published a draft IT law amendment that would require companies to “respect the rights granted to citizens under the Indian constitution”. He had also proposed the creation of a government panel.

The Indian government is concerned that users upset over decisions to have their content taken down do not have a proper system to appeal such decisions and that their only legal recourse is to go to court.

“A number of (tech) intermediaries have acted in violation of the constitutional rights of Indian citizens,” the government said in June, without naming any company or specific rights.

The governmental committee will consist of a chair and two full-time members, two of whom will be independent members.

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