New social media rules: Appellate panel is in the interest of natural justice, says Rajeev Chandrasekhar

S Ronendra Singh | | Updated on: Jun 07, 2022
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT | Photo Credit: BIJOY GHOSH

The government is planning to finalise new social media rules before July-end

The government on Tuesday explained the rationale of the newly-floated appellate committee as per the draft notification on intermediary (social media) companies for amendments in Part-I and Part-II of the IT Rules, 2021 as a measure towards ensuring that users get quick redressal.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Electronics and Information Technology, said this appellate committee is only required in the event of consumers’ complaints not getting addressed by the grievance officers of the big tech companies.

Grievance redressal

"This appellate jurisdiction issue arises only in the course of some big tech platforms not adhering to the spirit of the grievance officer and the grievance redressal model that has been put into place in the IT Act. The idea of a grievance officer was that he/she would address the grievance raised by the consumer that is the whole idea of accountability. But, many a times we have seen reports that consumers send letters/ complaints to the grievance officers and they just get acknowledgment, but nothing happens," he said.

Therefore, the concept of ‘natural justice’ applies and everybody has the right to appeal once. The appellate model is being created precisely for this purpose, said the Minister.

Chandrasekhar simultaneously maintained that if the industry and these platforms come up with their own self regulatory/ self redressal appellate mechanism, the government is open to it.

"Today there is nothing...what is the genesis of the February 2021 IT guidelines? They had no views/redressal mechanism at all...the rules provided for it. Now after providing for redressal mechanism, if they don't address grievances, then we have to provide an appellate jurisdiction body. All of these, I can tell you that the government is quite open if the industry found its own sort of a framework of addressing grievances of consumers, we are open to it," he said.

"If there is a better solution to what the one that is in the rules that needs the tests of making sure that the users of India are able to have accountability from their platform, and if it is a better solution, we are absolutely open to it," he repeated.

Chandrasekhar added that these rules will continue to evolve as in the cyberspace, there is no standstill in terms of how one approaches the issue of safety and trust, and openness and accountability.

The Centre on Monday released a fresh draft notification seeking comments from intermediary (social media) companies for amendments relating to setting up one or more appellate Committee/s with the power to reverse the content moderation decisions of the social media firms.

It also added the draft “will not impact early stage or growth stage Indian companies or start-ups”.

Key proposal

The draft has proposed to add two provisos under rule 3(2) of the IT Rules 2021 — the first proviso will require any complaint for removal of any content under rule 3(1) — and to be addressed within 72 hours of the receipt of the user’s complaint, because of the very nature of cyberspace providing instant communication, outreach and virality. The rules are expected to come by next month.

Published on June 07, 2022
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