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Panel to hear appeals on social media posts

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    14th Jun, 2022

Context

The government has proposed a new panel that will have the power to overturn the decisions related to content moderation/takedown of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, following appeals by users.

  • The Central Government shall constitute one or more Grievance Appellate Committees.

About

Grievance Appellate Committees:

  • One or more ‘Grievance Appellate Committees’ will be constituted by the Central Government as per the draft of the proposed amendments to the IT Rules, 2021.
  • The appellate committees will be dealing with appeals by users against the decision of the Grievance Officer appointed by the social media intermediary.
  • The committee will comprise a chairperson and other members appointed by the Central government.

Issues:

  • The rules may be going beyond the powers delegated under the IT Act, 2000 in certain cases like providing for the regulation of SSMIs and online publishers, and requiring certain intermediaries to identify the first originator of the information.
  • Grounds for restricting online content are overbroad and may affect freedom of speech.
  • There are no procedural safeguards for requests by law enforcement agencies for information under the possession of intermediaries.
  • Requiring messaging services to enable the identification of the first originator of information on its platform may adversely affect the privacy of individuals.

What are IT Rules, 2021?

  • The Rules aim to empower ordinary users of social media and OTT platforms with a mechanism for redressal and timely resolution of their grievance with the help of a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO) who should be a resident in India.
  • Safety measures: Special emphasis has been given on the protection of women and children from sexual offences, fake news and other misuse of the social media.
  • Source identification: Identification of the “first originator of the information” would be required in case of an offence related to sovereignty and integrity of India.  
  • Appointment of Chief Compliance Officer: A Chief Compliance Officer, a resident of India, also needs to be appointed and that person shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
  • Complaint monitoring: A monthly compliance report mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints would be necessary.
  • Code of Ethics: The OTT platforms, online news and digital media entities, on the other hand, would need to follow a Code of Ethics.
  • Self-classification: OTT platforms would be called as ‘publishers of online curated content’ under the new rules.
    • They would have to self-classify the content into five categories based on age and use parental locks for age above 13 or higher. They also need to include age verification mechanisms for content classified as ‘Adult’.
  • Redressal mechanism: A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been mandated. This includes the appointment of a GRO, self-regulatory bodies registered with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) to look after the Code of Ethics and a Charter for the self-regulating bodies formulated by MIB.
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