Social media users will now have the option to appeal against the grievance redressal process of the platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, before an appellate panel formed by the government, with the Centre notifying the amendments to the IT intermediary rules on October 28.
“The Central Government shall, by notification, establish one or more Grievance Appellate Committees within three months…,” according to the gazette notification.
Each committee, which will have the power to overturn the content moderation decisions made by the social media platforms, will consist of a chairperson and two wholetime members appointed by the Central government, of which one will be a member ex-officio and two independent members.
The new law comes on the back of multiple standoffs between the government and social media platforms over content moderation and takedown. In July, Twitter had moved the Karnataka High Court, seeking review and relief from “overbroad and arbitrary” content blocking orders from the government.
As per the notification, any person aggrieved by a decision of the intermediary’s grievance officer may prefer an appeal to the Grievance Appellate Committee within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of communication from the Grievance Officer.
The Committee will “make an endeavour to resolve the appeal finally within thirty calendar days from the date of receipt of the appeal”. The Committee may also seek assistance from any person having requisite qualification, experience and expertise in the subject matter while dealing with an appeal.
“The Grievance Appellate Committee shall adopt an online dispute resolution mechanism wherein the entire appeal process, from filing of appeal to the decision thereof, shall be conducted through digital mode,” the notification said, adding that every order passed by the Committee will be complied with by the intermediary concerned and a report to that effect shall be uploaded on its website.
The amendments also provide that any complaint for removal of any content by a user, should be addressed by social media platforms within 72 hours of the receipt of the complaint to prevent content from going viral. Intermediaries can develop and implement “appropriate safeguards” to prevent misuse of the grievance redressal mechanism. Any other grievance will continue to be addressed within 15 days.
Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw tweeted saying, “Empowering users... Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC) has been introduced for hearing appeals against decisions of Grievance Officer appointed by the intermediary.”