social media grievance forum: primarily independent members of the social media grievance forum.

Appeal Board for Complaints social media the users proposed in the latest amendments to the 2021 Information Technology Regulations will be made up primarily of independent experts, with government representation limited to one or two members, a senior official told ET.

This will ensure the independent functioning of the forum, which aims to provide users with a basic opportunity to “appeal the social media company’s complaint process” before going to any court, the source said. Noting also that it was unlikely that “any leaders from social media intermediaries or internet companies” to be included “on the board of the appellate body”.

Following industry-wide consultations held in previous weeks, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Girl) is now preparing final amendments to IT rules which should be completed “within the next two weeks,” according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We don’t want to control Twitter or Facebook. (User complaints) should be dealt with by a redress forum or a reporting mechanism (set up) by major tech platforms,” the official said.

However, if any fundamental right is “violated due to the power of the platform, then there must be a rule or action on the part of the government that protects the citizen,” he said, stating that government-appointed members would be there. only for “coordination” with industry.

In recent weeks, several influential industry lobbyists, including the US-India Business Council (USIBC) and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), whose members include firms such as Facebook and Twitter, have written to Matey questioning the independence of the forum. created by the government.

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Rejection of big technologies

Both USIBC and USISPF have noted their criticism of the proposed rules in their communications to the government. “Basic rights are not enforceable against private companies… The rule seems broad and it will be difficult to demonstrate compliance with it,” the USIBC said in a statement, Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday.

For its part, the government claims that social media companies are not responding quickly enough to user complaints that cause them “harm”. In addition, going to court is time consuming and costly for users, as the situation is particularly serious in India, which is one of the world’s largest Internet user markets with over 700 million subscribers.

Officials said, however, that the government has agreed to meet the industry’s needs and will take some of their suggestions into account when finalizing the rules.

Several changes are being discussed

One of the major changes under consideration in the Rules is the removal of a sentence requiring social media intermediaries to act on content that is “defamatory” or critical of any user of the platform. This is done in order to weed out unfounded complaints after consultation with industry experts, lawyers and the companies themselves, officials said.

“Due diligence needs to be reinforced by the intermediaries themselves,” they added.

Likewise, there will be a specific definition of disinformation and misinformation for social media intermediaries.

“If a user points out and proves that a piece of content is deliberate misinformation and the intermediary does not act on it, then (the social network company) loses the protection afforded and leaves it open to any litigation that may or may not be brought. user,” said the official mentioned above.

“Companies can no longer hide behind the “safe harbor” protection provided to them under IT law,” he added.

Last month, the Ministry of Information Technology completed a public consultation with industry experts, lawyers and representatives of social media intermediaries on proposed changes to the Information Technology Regulations 2021, which were published on June 6. It asked all interested parties to submit comments on the amendments by 6 July. .

Senior officials said the information technology ministry has received about 100 proposals, some of which it is studying in more detail with the help of external and legal experts.

Other proposed changes include reducing the time allowed for social media intermediaries to respond to user complaints from 96 hours to 72 hours.

The draft also proposes that intermediaries be given more responsibility for content moderation on their platform, in addition to creating an appeals court. The draft also stated that “all online intermediaries providing services in India must never violate the constitution, laws and regulations of India and follow them in spirit and letter.”

Minister of State for Information Technology Rajiv Chandrasekhar, who chaired the consultation held on June 23, said the government’s view on changes to the IT Regulation 2021 is to ensure the four core principles of Internet openness, Internet security and trust, accountability of social media intermediaries and full compliance with the Indian Constitution and statutory provisions.