The grievance appellate committee for social media users proposed through an amendment to the IT rules may include some independent experts in addition to one government nominee, according to a source to PTI.
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The IT Ministry is putting the finishing touches on a proposed amendment in the IT rules that calls for the establishment of an appeals committee to consider appeals made by individuals against decisions made by the grievance officers of social media platforms.
The IT Ministry hopes to notify the changes "very soon", possibly in less than a month, reported PTI.
A government official privy to the matter said the proposed mechanism will be citizen-centric, and the composition of the grievance redressal committee will be notified as part of the rule.
The official refused to comment on the specifics of the panel or its other constituents but he said it is likely to have one government nominee as well as some independent experts.
The government is in the process of modifying the social media rules that propose to give users a complaint appeal mechanism against arbitrary content moderation, inaction, or takedown decisions of giant tech companies.
In June, the draft rule around this was circulated by the government. Currently, "there is no appellate mechanism provided by intermediaries nor is there any credible self-regulatory mechanism in place", the IT ministry had then said.
The note accompanying the draft amendment mentioned "It is proposed to create an appellate body called 'Grievance Appellate Committee' under rule 3(3) of the IT Rules 2021 by invoking section 79 of the IT Act having regard to additional guidelines as may be prescribed by the Central Government. Users will have the option to appeal against the grievance redressal process of the intermediaries before this new appellate body.”
The note further said that the committee will endeavour to address the user's appeal within 30 days.
Even after providing for the redressal mechanism through the IT Rules, 2021, user grievances remained unresolved, prompting the government to step in and propose an appellate jurisdiction framework.
Government has, all along, highlighted that safety and trust are public policy objectives and mission, and it will do all whatever it takes to ensure suitable safeguards are in place for digital citizens steering online and social media space.
Amid reports that digital platforms are acting randomly in pulling down content and 'de-platforming', the government has made it quite clear that social media companies cannot undermine the constitutional rights of citizens, and that internet must be safe and trusted place with all platforms accountable to their users.
However, there is growing discontent among a section of users who claim that digital platforms have been involved in arbitrary acts in taking down content, or not replying fast enough to grievances, despite users red-flagging them.