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Social media platforms must comply with Indian laws: MeitY

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Reiterating his earlier remarks on social media platforms or intermediaries, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), said on Thursday that companies “must” comply with Indian laws , whether they like it or not.

MeitY on June 6 had put in place a new draft notice seeking comments from intermediary companies (social networks) for the amendments to Parts I and II of the IT rules, 2021, considering creating one or more appeal committee / s with the power to override the content moderation decisions of these companies.

The grievance appeal would then oversee social media company grievance officers. MeitY had requested a stakeholder response which was open until June 22 (Wednesday). “The government has no interest in creating multiple layers of dispute resolution…in a way, this is a decent set for platforms or intermediaries that aren’t doing their job. You can’t not just appoint a grievance officer and say ‘I’m done with my responsibility for everyone.’ The responsibility/accountability rests with the grievance officer to resolve the grievance fairly and equitably,” he said. he said while addressing the concerns of stakeholders.

“I can assure the public that we will have new laws very soon and a lot of things today that you think are a little vague and that will require a court to interpret them, will end up in law. It gives you a directional view of how we think where digital citizens should be in this equation between the platform or the intermediaries on the one hand and the citizens on the other,” he said.

Grievances mount

It was also revealed that the number of complaints received by MeitY over the past few months has increased. “We don’t really talk about legality here, that’s where we look for suggestions from the (stakeholder) group. We see the need for it…the number of grievances that we see, that we receive in the department has increased and there seems to be, in some cases, clearly a bit of arbitrariness on the part of the platforms. The number of court cases in the recent past has also increased for precisely the same reason,” said Rakesh Maheshwari, Group Coordinator, Cyber ​​Laws Division at MeitY.

Therefore, especially for major social media platforms, MeitY advises that there should be a reasonable opportunity given to the user before the content/information is taken down.

“The fact remains that people claim no reasonable opportunity is available and people end up either in the ministry or in court. And that’s where we try to find some sort of middle layer,” Maheshwari added.

No active response

Some of the stakeholders also pointed out that complaints managers or compliance officers of social media platforms have not yet given active responses. They’re just auto-responding to user complaints right now, they noted.

On the issue of the appeal committee, Chandrasekhar reiterated that “the government has no interest in doing this, but it was something that was forced on the government due to the lack of response or consistent response from intermediaries.

Attendees included officials from Meta (Facebook), industry bodies such as Nasscom, Assocham and Broadband India Forum, and cyber law experts such as Pavan Duggal and Anuj Agarwal.

Published on

June 23, 2022

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