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The government is bringing back a plan for a panel to decide on social media content. Read here

The government has brought back a proposal to change the rules that govern social media companies, including a plan to create a new government-appointed committee that experts say will effectively take the final call on what content remains up or down from websites like Twitter and Facebook.

The rules applicable to social media companies came into force on May 26, 2021. They mandated major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to allow the identification of the “first author” of information that infringes the sovereignty of the India, State Security, or Public Order.

The central government plans to set up an appeal commission to consider appeals filed by individuals against the decisions of social media platform complaints officers. In addition, the panel must decide on appeals within 30 days of receipt and its decision will be binding on intermediaries or large social media companies involved, according to a notice to change information technology (guidelines for intermediaries and digital media code of ethics). ) Rules, 2021.

The proposed decision gains significance in the context of instances of accounts, including those of celebrities, being blocked by social media platforms such as Twitter for alleged violation of respective Community Guidelines.

“The central government will constitute one or more grievance appeal committees, which will consist of a chairman and other members, as the central government may, by notification to the official gazette,” said the ministry of electronics and Information Technology (Meity) in the draft notification.

The government’s proposal to set up a grievance board that will have the power to overrule decisions of social media and other internet companies aims to address some of the infirmities and shortcomings stemming from big tech companies, a government official said on Monday. official statement.

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) in a press note attached with a reloaded draft notice to amend the Information Technology Rules 2021 (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Code of digital media ethics), said it would hold a public consultation in mid-June on the proposal.

It also extended the deadline for public comments on the draft Notice to Amend IT Rules, 2021, by 30 days from June 6.

The draft notice dated June 1 had listed June 22 as the deadline for public comments. The project was removed by Meity on June 2 and re-uploaded to its website.

Meity said he notified the IT Rules 2021 on February 25, 2021 with the aim of ensuring an open, safe, reliable and responsible internet for all Indian internet users and “Digital Nagriks”.

Under the rules, major social media intermediaries – those with more than 50 lakh users – are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a compliance officer. Such personnel must be resident in India.

Social media companies covered by the rules are also classified as “Big Tech” companies because they dominate the segments in which they operate.

Meity said the notified rules succeeded in creating a new sense of responsibility among intermediaries towards their users, especially within Big Tech platforms.

“However, as the digital ecosystem and connected internet users in India grow, so do the challenges and issues they face, along with some of the infirmities and loopholes that exist in the current rule vis- vis-à-vis the Big Tech Platform. . Accordingly, new amendments have been proposed to the IT Rules 2021, to address these challenges and shortcomings,” the statement read.

The Centre, in the draft amendment, proposed to establish a grievance appeal board to review appeals filed by individuals against decisions of social media platform grievance managers.

In addition, the panel must decide on appeals within 30 days of receipt and its decision will be binding on intermediaries or large social media companies involved, according to a notice to change information technology (guidelines for intermediaries and digital media code of ethics). ) Rules, 2021.

The aggrieved person may appeal the grievance officer’s decision to the committee within 30 days of receiving the order.

“The Grievance Appeals Committee will deal with this appeal expeditiously and will endeavor to make a final decision on the appeal within 30 calendar days from the date the appeal is received. Each order made by the Grievance Appeals Committee grievances must be complied with by the relevant intermediary,” the draft notice states.

(With agency contributions)

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