Social media platforms fail to adequately resolve grievances, minister says
The government’s proposal to set up a grievance appeal board follows several complaints that social media platforms are not adequately addressing issues raised by the public, Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said on Thursday.
The Minister of State for Electronics and Computing held an open house discussion with stakeholders on a draft notice to amend the Information Technology Rules 2021 (Guidelines for Intermediaries and digital media code of ethics).
The government has proposed to set up a grievance committee which will have the power to overrule decisions of social media companies and other internet companies.
“While we put in place a grievance manager and accountability framework that was missing before February 2021, we have been inundated with people saying it was not enough and not working properly. Platforms and intermediaries are appointing grievance managers grievances but there is no real remedy for the grievance and it needs to be addressed,” Chandrasekhar said.
Social media platforms must act on complaints that violate Indian laws and cannot contravene the rights of citizens granted by the constitution, he added.
“While we encourage intermediaries from all over the world to make their presence felt in India, but their rules and conditions of their service may not at any time contravene articles 14, 19 and 21 of the constitution in particular and the constitution in general,” the minister said.
Chandrasekhar noted that social media companies cannot discriminate, play with the right to freedom of expression and privacy and citizens’ rights rooted in the constitution.
The minister challenged a representative of the Indian Internet and Mobile Association (IAMAI) for failing to give a convincing reason to extend the July 5 deadline for comments by one month and on concerns about the increased regulatory cost burden due to the application of the proposed rules.
Asked if the government is open to a voluntary, industry-led grievance mechanism, the minister said yes.
He said the government is ready to accept any alternative that stakeholders come up with that is credible and that people feel that social media platforms are accountable to them when raising their concerns.
“The current grievance redress mechanism is far from being respected by the platforms that should have it. Therefore, consider this appeal group as an interim mechanism until the industry takes a step forward and delivers something believable,” Chandrasekhar said.
The rules will constantly evolve based on stakeholder feedback, he noted.
“Security, trust and responsibility are very relevant in these rules,” the minister said.
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