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Government announces rules for appeals committees on social media


NEW DELHI: The government on Friday announced rules under which it will set up appellate panels to address grievances users may have over decisions made by social media platforms. like Twitter and Facebook about hosting controversial content.
The three-member Complaints Appeals Committee(s) will be established in three months, said a notice in a gazette issued by MeitY (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).
In the new regulations, the government has added objectionable religious content (with the intent to incite violence) along with pornography, trademark infringement, fake information and something that could be a threat. threaten the sovereignty of the country that users can flag for social media platforms. Their decisions about flying such flags can be challenged in appeals committees.
Shortly after the amendments were announced, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted: “Empowering users. The Complaints Appeals Committee (GAC) has been referred to hear an appeal against the decisions of the Officers.” Complaints department designated by the intermediary”.
In another tweet, the minister said, “Privacy policy and user agreements with intermediaries will be made available in 8 Indian languages ​​on Schedule”.
While major tech companies advocate self-regulation, the government seems to have taken the view that user concerns about content on social media platforms need to be addressed by an agency. Appeal.
In February 2021, the government announced IT rules that provide social media platforms with the appointment of a grievance officer. Users at the first stage flag complaints against other users or content, to staff to deal with the complaint.
The rules have now been revised through Friday’s announcement to strengthen the grievance redress mechanism.
The amendments provide social media platforms to acknowledge user complaints within 24 hours and resolve them within 15 days thereafter.
Complaints can range from child sexual abuse material to nudity to trademark and patent infringement, misinformation, impersonation of others, content that threatens integrity and integrity. country as well as “hateful” content that incites “hostility between different groups on the basis of religion or class with the aim of inciting violence”.
Regulatory rules for social media platforms to take down certain controversial content within 72 hours of reporting.
The appellate committees will be able to review content moderation and other decisions made by social media companies like Meta and Twitter.
“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 thirty days of receiving notice from the complaints officer,” it said.
The appeals board will resolve the appeal “expeditiously” and attempt to resolve the final appeal within thirty calendar days of receipt of the appeal.
If the appeals committee dealing with the complaint, while processing the appeal, deems it necessary, it may seek assistance from any person with the necessary qualifications, experience and expertise in the matter. this topic.
“The Appeals Committee will adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism, where the entire appeals process, from the filing of an appeal to its decision, will be conducted through a technical mechanism. digital,” it said.
Incidentally, the move comes at a time when Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk has completed a $44 billion takeover of Twitter, putting the world’s richest man on the throne. Take the helm of one of the most influential social media apps in the world.
However, the IT rule changes have been in the works for months, since users red-flagged instances of digital platforms acting arbitrarily. The latest move will provide users with a complaints mechanism in the form of appellate committees that will review complaints by individuals against the decisions of the complaints officers of social media platforms. festival.
In February 2021, the government announced the IT Code (Intermediary Principle and Digital Media Code of Ethics), 2021 for social media applications, online news portals, general submissions, etc. news fusion and OTT platform. However, even after providing a remediation mechanism through the IT Code, in 2021 many user complaints remained unresolved, prompting the government to step in and propose an appellate jurisdiction framework.
There has been opposition from industry and some stakeholders about the proposal to the appeals committee after the government, in June, released a draft rule around the matter. Currently, “there is no appellate mechanism provided by intermediaries nor any credible self-regulatory mechanism in place,” the IT ministry said at the time.
“Proposing to establish an appellate body called the ‘Commission of Appeals’ under rule 3(3) of the IT Code 2021 by invoking section 79 of the IT Act regarding additional guidelines may be regulated by the central government. Users will have the option to appeal the mediator’s complaint resolution process before this new appellate body,” the note accompanying the proposed amendment said. know at the time.
The government has emphasized that safety and trust are the goals and missions of public policy, and it will do all it takes to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place for technical citizens. digitally navigates the online and social media space.
The government has made it clear that social media companies cannot undermine the constitutional rights of citizens and that the internet must be a safe and trusted place for all platforms to be accountable to people. their use.
There is growing discontent among a segment of users who allege that digital platforms have engaged in arbitrary practices in removing content or not responding quickly enough to complaints, despite even though the user has flagged them red.
However, internet digital rights advocate group Internet Freedom Foundation in a tweet said: “The announced revised Rules harm the digital rights of all Indian social media users.”

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