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Google names grievance officer on website, appointment may not be in compliance with IT Rules, 2021

While Google’s ‘Contact Us’ page mentions Joe Grier as the contact person, his designation is not mentioned and his address shows that he is based in the US and not in India as the guidelines mandate

Digital company Google has updated its website to reflect the appointment of its grievance officer and has shared details with the Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY) as per the new IT rules. But the officer is not based in India as mandated by the rules.

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The IT Rules, 2021 mandate significant social intermediaries and platforms that have more than 50 lakh users to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a nodal person of contact, and a Resident Grievance Officer. All three have to be residents of India. Their names and contact details have to be prominently displayed on their app/ website along with the grievance redressal mechanism.

While Google’s Contact Us page mentions Joe Grier as the contact person, his designation is not mentioned and his address shows that he is based in the US and not in India, as the guidelines mandate.

Sharing her insight on this, an industry expert said, “The Rules specifically require these intermediaries to have a Resident Grievance Officer in India, apart from the two other officers. They must clearly indicate the name and address of the grievance officer. You can’t leave it ambiguous. This will be a violation. They will definitely have to abide by the rules.”

Though Google has different product offerings, they have not designated different officers for them. “Google looks at different services individually. So YouTube has different privacy policies, Terms of Use, while Gmail would have something else. But they have only one grievance redressal officer for all their services,” she added.

Google did not respond to the questions sent by BestMediaInfo.

In an earlier statement, a Google spokesperson had said, “We respect India’s legislative process and have a long history of responding to government requests to remove content where the content violates the local law or our product policies. We have consistently invested in significant product changes, resources, and personnel to ensure that we’re combating illegal content in an effective and fair way, and in order to comply with local laws in the jurisdictions that we operate in. We realise that our work in keeping our platforms secure is never done and we will continue to refine our existing approaches, and evolve our policies and be as transparent as possible about how we make decisions.”

Twitter has named Dharmendra Chatur as the interim Resident Grievance Officer. However, that is also considered invalid as the rules mandate that the officer has to be the intermediary’s employee and Chatur works at a law firm.

Meanwhile, a week after approaching Delhi HC against the new guidelines, WhatsApp, in its FAQ section, named Hyderabad-based Paresh B Lal as its grievance officer.

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