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Appellate committees to redress user-grievances about social media

Appellate committees to redress user-grievances about social media

New Delhi: The Union government decided to set up appellate panels to address users' grievances against decisions of social media platforms on carrying contentious content, PTI reported.

Centre will set up the three-membered committees in three months, a Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology notification stated.

The Centre's new rules include objectionable religious content (with intent to incite violence) alongside pornography, trademark infringements, fake information and something that could be a threat to the sovereignty of the nation that users could notify the respective platforms. Users doing so could be challenged before the grievance committees.

After publishing the fresh amendments, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "Empowering users. Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) has been introduced for hearing appeals against decisions of Grievance Officer appointed by the intermediary". In another tweet, the minister said, "Privacy policy and user agreements of intermediary to be made available in the Eight Schedule Indian languages," on a tweet.

However, the digital rights group Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) responded to the amendments, "The notified Amendment Rules cause injury to the digital rights of every Indian social media user." The establishment of Grievance Appellate Committees "is essentially a govt censorship body that would hear appeals against the decisions of social media platforms to remove content or not, thus making bureaucrats arbiters of our online free speech," in a statement.

The amendment mandates social media platforms to acknowledge user complaints within 24 hours and fix the issue in 15 days. Platforms should take down certain contentious content within 72 hours of reporting. The appellate committees will have powers to review content moderation and other decisions by social media companies.

The Centre's notification said 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 appellate committees are to have a chairperson and two whole-time members appointed by the central government, and two independent members. One of the whole-time members will be an ex-officio. "Any person aggrieved by a decision of the grievance officer may prefer an appeal to the appellate grievance committee within a period of thirty days from the date of receipt of communication from the grievance officer," the notification said.

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TAGS:social media appellate committee Centre amendment 
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