Government-appointed executive boards will have the power to review content moderation decisions or takedown requests by platforms like Twitter and Facebook, with changes to controversial new IT rules. India announced on Friday that activists had acted as an attempt to censor free speech.
This change paves the way for the creation of a ‘Complaint Appeals Committee’, which will address issues users may face compared to how social media platforms initially handled their complaints about content and other matters, for three months.
The move can be seen as the dominance of big tech companies, which have come under increasing scrutiny in India since the clash between Twitter and the country’s ruling BJP last year. Activists say the panels could mean more government control over online content.
“The central government will, by notice, establish one or more appellate committees within three months of the commencement of the Information Technology Amendment Code (Intermediate Guidelines and Code of Ethics for Communications). digital), in 2022,” the announcement said.
Each appeals committee shall be composed of a chairperson and two full-time members appointed by the central government, of which one will be a full member and two will be independent members.
“Any person affected by the complaint officer’s decision may wish to appeal to the appeals committee within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of notice from the complaints officer,” it said. .
The Appeals Board will resolve the appeal “expeditiously” and attempt to resolve the final appeal within 30 days of receiving the appeal, the order said.
Under the revised rules, companies will be required to acknowledge complaints from users within 24 hours and resolve them within 15 days or 72 hours in the event of a takedown request.
Internet advocacy group Freedom Foundation said the changes “harm the digital rights of every Indian social media user” and called the methods of appeal selection for review “unclear and arbitrary.” convenient”.
“[The committees are] essentially a government censorship agency that will hear appeals against the decisions of social media platforms whether to remove content, thus leaving officials to arbitrate over language freedom. our online commentary,” it said in a statement.
This will incentivize platforms to remove/prevent any speech that is offensive to the government or political pressurers, while strengthening the government’s control and power. government because the government will be able to decide what content must be displayed by the platforms.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has had strained relations with many Big Tech companies, and the BJP administration is tightening regulation on companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Tensions over social media content decisions are a particularly thorny issue in the country, with companies often receiving takedown requests from the government or actively removing content.
Social media companies have been required to have an internal complaints officer and appoint executives to coordinate with law enforcement officials.
(With input from agencies)