The government on Friday notified amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021, aimed at protecting online users.
Under the amended rules notified on Friday, the government will set up appellate panels to settle grievances that users may have against decisions of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook on hosting contentious content.
Soon after the tweaks in IT rules were notified on Friday, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "The focus of the amendment of intermediary guidelines is on the protection of online users.
"The law of the land is supreme. Intermediary to ensure accessibility of its services to all users and respect their rights under the Constitution of India," he noted.
According to the latest amendments, the appellate committees will be able to review content moderation and other decisions of social media companies such as Meta and Twitter.
"The central government shall, by notification, establish one or more grievance appellate committees within three months from the date of commencement of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022," the notification said.
Until now, grievance redressal was left to the ethics officials of the social media platforms.
The amendment, which is by way of newly introduced Rule 3A, provides for setting up of Grievance Appellate Committee (Committee). The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022 has been published in the official gazette.
As per Rule 3A (2), each Grievance Appellate Committee shall consist of a chairperson and two whole time members appointed by the central government, of which one shall be a member ex-officio and two shall be independent members.
A party aggrieved by a decision of the grievance officer may prefer an appeal to the committee within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of communication from the grievance officer.
The rules also provide that while dealing with appeal, if the committee feels necessary, it may seek assistance from any person having requisite qualification, experience and expertise in the subject matter.
The new amendment further mentions that the committee shall adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism wherein the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision would be conducted through digital mode.
All the orders passed by the committee should be complied with by the intermediary concerned and a report to that effect shall be uploaded on its website.
The amended rules also put the responsibility on social media intermediaries to ensure that users comply with due diligence requirements laid down under the IT Rules, 2021.